Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Future of Social Media is Basically Simple.

Say goodbye to the days of company/product names with a dropped “e” in the suffix. There (hopefully) won’t be any more names like Tumblr, Flickr, or Blippr in the near future. That's because the new trend involves naming things after extremely basic concepts instead.

One can only assume that the use of those intentionally misspelled names over the past couple of years was to help secure more unique and accurate search results; after all, a search for “flicker” on Google reveals 35.5 million results. They might have considered using an alternate spelling because whoever owns would be sitting on a goldmine, waiting for the company to purchase it, and the company didn't want to waste the money.

But wait— redirects to, and the first two of those 35.5 million results are, so that can’t be the reason for the dropped "e." What’s going on here?

It turns out that those misspellings were merely hipster-friendly—or should I say “hipstr-friendly.” (As a side note, visiting shows that the domain is for sale, waiting for a hip new social tool to jump on it.)

Sorry,, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to be buying your domain anytime soon.

Nope, to make it in the 2011 social media world you need to pick the most basic term you can think of and model your entire business on top of it. For example, Square is a new credit card-swiping device that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone. Basic enough for you?

Now you might think that doing a search for the term “square” would lead you to millions of the vague destinations that the 1 billion Google results provide, but the company’s SEO is so fantastic that they’ve secured the very first result. They even beat out the Wikipedia article for the geometric concept itself, though they had to buy instead of (which is owned by Japanese video game company Square Enix, who are surprisingly NOT forwarding hits to their official domain.)

Another example is the mobile photo-sharing app Color (proud purchaser of for $50,000) in which users within a certain area anonymously provide each other with pictures taken in the immediate vicinity. No doubt purchasing this domain pushed their search result rankings through the roof, but I suspect some spectacular SEO optimization is in play here as well.

Even AOL jumped into this trend with their mobile music-sharing app called Play, though at 2 billion Google search results, the app not appearing in the first five pages of those results, and the eponymous domain owned by a UK media distribution company, this simple name might be a bit less successful than the others.

Why the basic names? A bit of Internet feng shui, I assume. We’ve gotten sick of this hipstery crap where we drop letters; in fact, dropped e’s are the new CamelCase. It's fresher than numbers-as-letters. You’ll notice we don’t share our photos on Nope, that one's netsquatted by AT&T, ultimately sending you to the Yellow Pages.

So if you want to fit in and see your app purchased by Yahoo for $25 million, you'll need a basic name. Just think of the most basic concept you can come up with, and then dumb it down into an even more basic idea. As part of my public service, I’ll provide some ideas now:
  • Letter: A nano-blog service
  • Look: A photo-sharing app with eye tracking that shows a new photo each time you look at it
  • Move: Location-tracking app that you actually intentionally sign up for
  • Path: Similar to Move, but encourages others to follow you—physically
  • One: Movie/Music/etc. critique website where reviews consist of a single word
  • On: WiFi device that tells you if you left certain appliances running and can start your car via your Letter nano-blog
  • Space: App that lives in the cloud. Do you really need to know more to decide whether or not to invest?
Those should provide you with enough anonymity that you’ll need to invest hundreds of man-hours in SEO and publicity, but once that ball gets rolling and people throw you in with Color and Square, it’s only a matter of time before AOL wants to merge with you. Good luck on your IPO!

UPDATE: There's actually a new photo sharing called Path. Can you believe it?

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