'Microcommunities' are future of social media
With Facebook’s data leaks on the front page of every newspaper and its founder called before American congress, it is becoming clear how much power can be held by a single social media platform.
But despite the controversy, Facebook has yet to see a sizable decrease in users: without real competition, both users and brands have little choice but to stay on the platform or risk losing connection altogether.
One social networking entrepreneur believes that the way to compete with the likes of Facebook is not to replicate it, but to follow the 'third evolution' in social networking.
"[Facebook] is the second generation of social network - the first being MySpace - and microcommunities are the way forward. That's how we work in the real world,” Kevin Brown, founder and CEO of GigRev, told BusinessCloud.
The London-based entrepreneur, who has a background in digital marketing and the music industry, saw artists investing their time into social media to promote themselves through content. Whilst the platforms benefited from the activity, the artists saw little return.
Brown says the vast majority of the most popular Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts are for celebrities and artists.
The GigRev platform in use
"You can tweet all day and nobody takes any notice unless you're already famous,” he said.
“We're in an age where everything is one place: with social media it is being on Facebook and Twitter, whereas in music its Spotify or Apple Music.
“Everything has become centralised because that's where people want to put their money, but there is certainly a movement for the decentralisation of data."
Brown calls Facebook “an advertising network disguised as a social network”. His answer comes in the form of smaller social networks with a single common interest which he calls microcommunities.
By segmenting personal data into these, Brown believes that it is better protected in the event of a breach. And more importantly, microcommunities represent how we socialise in the real world, with different social circles and varied interests.
"I've got all my family, my friends and my business colleagues on Facebook. A lot of the time, I ask myself 'do I want my mum or my business colleagues to know what I'm doing tonight?'
"Microcommunities are the way it's going to go. They give that separation between the things that you really love without preaching your message to everybody.”
The GigRev platforms provide anyone with a fanbase – including artist, bands and chefs – with their own social network so they can interact with fans. In effect a blank canvas, the platform can be fully branded and used to foster a microcommunity.
“GigRev is a pure social communication channel between fan and artist,” Brown explained.
The artists can share both free and premium content directly to the microcommunity without the need to rely on a third-party platform such as Twitter or Facebook. Rather than selling personal data to advertisers, the GigRev app takes 20 per cent of the subscription revenue taken by users of the platform.
The business is currently crowdfunding on the Seedrs platform, where it has already received 116 per cent of its £250,000 goal.
"It's also a way that you can monetise that fanbase and own the relationship, rather than a social network benefiting every single time you post your content,” he added. "The smaller bands create a much stronger connection with the artist, so it works for every level."
The business has already signed a number of artists including singer-songwriter Matt Goss from Bros, English reggae band UB40 and rock band Thunder.
"I didn't start any of my companies primarily to make money,” said Brown.
“I did it because I really believed in them and wanted to get a message out there."
The entrepreneur is now eyeing up the possibility of using the same framework to produce work intranets which can be used by employees.
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