THE BLOG

The Existing Social Network Model Is Broken, Interest-Based Networks Could Fix That

30/11/2015 15:16 GMT | Updated 27/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Most posts on social networks these days are effectively spam. Between sponsored posts, cat photos, those BuzzFeed-style "6 amazing things you never knew about Hull" headlines and people live tweeting from events you're not at and don't care about, your social media feeds are becoming less and less relevant.

The problem is with today's social network model where you follow family or people you went to school with, or in the case of Twitter, celebrities. Which means that every time you post something, it's going to all those people, regardless of whether it's relevant to them or not. And in return, all their posts, relevant or not, are filling your feed.

And there is the problem. Following people at your university was fine when the goal was to create a place to meet them online. But that's not what we're using social networks for today, and certainly not when it has been 10 years since you last met them.

Instead, what we're all looking for is great content on topics that we care about, and a community of like-minded people to engage with. When we follow someone, we want to get their thoughts on technology, or politics, or a sustainable future, but not their holiday snaps or their public whinging at BT to fix their phone line.

Imagine that instead of following people you know, you could connect with people you didn't necessarily know, around the interests, lifestyles or topics you care about. I call that an interest-based network.

What's fascinating on interest- based networks like my new startup 6Tribes is seeing people being genuinely authentic in their posts and conversations and the total absence of brands and sponsored content (of course that's something we'll need to deal with in the future, every business needs a revenue model at some point). It's only when you see it that you realise how conditioned we've become to the level of junk filling our social media feeds today.

Interest-based networks aren't a new idea; Are Interest-Based Networks the Way of the Future? dates back to last year, and there have been many attempts at creating interest-based communities over the years. In many cases they exist as individual apps and web sites for a particular interest, in other cases companies have looked to create a single destination that's an umbrella for a range of interests. But until now there hasn't really been a mobile-friendly experience that hits the mark.

In the just-posted In Defence of Social Media, Eleanor Moss puts it perfectly:

"Humans possess a very natural, deep-rooted desire to form tribes and be a part of something. Someone who wants to meet other people who are into similar interests or identities are able to more so than ever before. If you are into comics, you can follow and interact with fellow comic-fans. Crossfit enthusiasts can compare methods and tips with those who will be interested and supportive."

I don't know Eleanor, but I couldn't have put it better myself.

6Tribes is free to download on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/6tribes/id979286265?mt=8