As my alarm sounds at 7:15AM, I roll over to silence my phone and instinctively start scrolling through my notifications from Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and unlock my phone to read texts and emails. The process of catching up with these notifications takes about 15 minutes, and it’s not until 7:30AM when I actually leave my bed. At this point in my morning, I have successfully updated myself on today’s news, read any emails and newsletters that I subscribe to, and of course, received the brief of what my friends were doing last night from Instagram and Snapchat. The first part of my morning routine is critical – without digesting this information first thing in the morning, I leave my bed with the chance of being in the dark about world events, updates on my schedule for the day, and most importantly, what my high school boyfriend’s younger sister’s bestfriend did last night.
Digesting all the parts of a social world is quite the task. With so many resources for being “in the know” in all aspects of our lives, we feel somewhat responsible to keep in touch and up to date on all of the content constantly being pushed to our inboxes and feeds. Part of this responsibility, at least for me, comes from the fear of missing out on something big. This sense of responsibility can mean a lot of things, including distraction, wasted time, and even developing a sense of anxiety around our “image” on social media. While social media has a lot of implications for individuals, it also plays a larger role in our society.
With 20% of the world on Facebook, social trends and movements spread rapidly. Within minutes, videos and posts can receive thousands of views and comments, linking people from all over the world to content. The power of social media is not a new phenomenon, and I think it’s fair to assume many people recognize the power that we hold as individuals with social media accounts, and also the power of the platforms as a whole. Twitter has led to dozens of social movements, all with the use of simple hashtags. Facebook and LinkedIn create virtual networks, allowing us to connect with people from our past and meet people who might be able to help us in the future.
Though social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have changed our present, I don’t think they will have the same impact on our future. These platforms have been revolutionary, but I believe we will soon have other socially-focused companies emerge to satisfy pain points consumers still have within the realm of social networks. While consumer-facing social companies have room to improve, I also believe that B2B companies will also be able to infiltrate the crowded space of selling social media tools to businesses. Throughout this semester, I hope to observe how startups within the social media and digital business space plan to disrupt the current sector.
As an Investment Partner on the Dorm Room Fund team, I am exposed to some really awesome student-entrepreneurs. Students from BC, Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, and other universities in the Boston area are emerging as top innovators, pushing to create products that will change the face of many sectors. This semester, I hope to study and learn from many of those entrepreneurs who want to change the face of social media, and those who aim to grow their own digital business. I have high expectations that this intersection of millennials and entrepreneurs will be able to successfully innovate these industries and create new platforms and products.
There are still many pain points evident within the current state of social media. As Professor Kane points out in his article “One Size Does Not Fit All in Social Media”, the college demographic still does not have a dedicated social platform. Facebook is now infiltrated by younger siblings, parents, distant aunts, and other contacts that college students might not feel comfortable sharing content with. Snapchat satisfies some of the need, with most contacts being close friends of users. However, since the nature of the product is temporary and disappearing, it still does not fill the need that college students seek in a social media platform.
Many companies have been trying to make moves into the space, offering value that current incumbents have missed. Camarilla is a new platform that promotes the value of having a smaller number of connections, making the product more intimate and personal. Though I personally don’t use this product or know if it’s the next big platform, I do recognize college students’ push for smaller, more intimate ways to connect with groups. Whether its creating group messages through iMessage or GroupMe, or creating “finstas” to share more personal pictures on Instagram with a smaller, select group of followers, it’s clear there’s a need for a product like Camarilla.
I hope throughout this semester I will learn more about the social media space, and therefore become more capable of identifying compelling startups pitching to DRF. If there’s any room for innovation within the social media space, I believe bright college students will be able to recognize it and innovate accordingly. I look forward to hopefully meeting these entrepreneurs and with other DRF members, helping them move into a space ready for new players.