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Will a Promise of Privacy Help Expand the Social Media Universe?
By: Christine Geraci
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This week, The Smartblog on Social Media's Jesse Stanchak asked an extremely provocative question: Is the social media universe still expanding?
The blog had polled its readers with a simple question: Have you signed up for a new social network in 2013? A solid 50 percent said no, while 41 percent said yes. Another 8.5 percent said no because they don't use social networks.
The post aptly points out the upside to an apparent slow-up on the joining-new-social-networks front: We're too overloaded as it is, and we need a break. From a business perspective, fewer social networks to worry about is definitely good news for staff and resources likely already stretched too thin.
The downside, however, is "that a lack of new blood means a lack of competition for popular social networks," Stanchak writes.
Thing is, competition among social networks isn't very simple to define. They are technically free (although one could argue you "pay" using a currency of private information and data that would make any advertiser start salivating). So, they can't compete simply by offering the lowest price.
The social networks a person uses are based on highly personal preferences. Primarily, people use a social network if their family, friends, and/or colleagues are using it. Ease of use is also an arguably universal selling point. Not to mention, who's the best at creating the feeling of missing something important if you DON'T join. 
But given heated discussions about online privacy over last year or so, and the latest revelations of the U.S. government's secret data-gathering missions, it seems the newest competitive playing field could indeed be privacy itself.
An assurance that data shared over a particular network will never go before the eyes of advertisers or government officials might become more of a selling point. 
If only somebody could get it right. "Unthink" tried, but in the end, descended into disaster. It's important to note, however, that even though Unthink seemed to be the victim of poor planning, its initial introduction as the "anti-Facebook" worked really well at drumming up interest. No doubt other hopefuls are taking note and planning accordingly.
Would you try a new social network if it promised you more online privacy than what you're used to?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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