Can SocialFi subvert traditional social media?

24-06-16 10:30
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Original title: "Can SocialFi Disrupt Social Media?"
Original author: Joan Westenberg, idle thoughts
Original translation: Ladyfinger, BlockBeats

Editor's note:

SocialFi aims to give users more control and direct economic returns through the concept of decentralization. However, this change is not without challenges. This article deeply analyzes SocialFi's core ideas, technical foundations, market potential, and major obstacles, providing readers with a comprehensive perspective to understand the complexity of this field and its possible profound impact on the future of social networks.

As a technical writer, I have spent my life observing brilliant innovations and stupid trends emerging from technological and social upheavals. It is a challenge to distinguish between what is truly meaningful and what is trivial. When evaluating any trend, especially a field like SocialFi that is full of beautiful visions and real profit-seeking behavior, we must at least try to base our analysis on a solid foundation.

SocialFi is built on the fascinating idea that we can transform Facebook and Twitter ad pushes into a crypto utopia.

I interpret the SocialFi track broadly, covering social networks, decentralized platforms, permissionless social interactions, ownership of social graphs, social rewards, and social tokens. While there may be debate over which elements should be classified as SocialFi, I tend to think of the application of crypto technology in the social field and the application of social elements in the crypto field as a whole when doing effective category analysis.

The current social media giants are not unshakable by accident. There are solid reasons for their dominance. The products of these social networks are carefully designed and optimized by the world's most sharp minds and touch the core of human psychology. The reason why social media can so effectively stimulate people's deep desire for connection, recognition, motivation and self-expression is not just a momentary inspiration of the founders, but is rooted in part of our inherent needs and is as deep as human basic instincts.

Anyone seeking to disrupt the social networking giants can’t simply mimic (or devalue) their achievements and features; they must find a way to surpass them. In other words, it’s not enough to simply be a Facebook doppelganger with some cryptocurrency frills. To justify SocialFi’s existence, it must offer a superior performance in capabilities, credibility, or alignment with user values and interests.

Network effects make users tend to stay on platforms where their social graphs are already established. For any newbie, no matter how ambitious their goals, they face the challenge of convincing users to abandon existing networks and build new social connections from scratch. This is not entirely impossible, but history shows that this usually requires a leap forward in user experience.

Existing social networks have vast data resources, strong capital, high brand recognition, and the advantage of surviving in a regulatory environment. They will not give up their market position easily. The idea of "decentralization" alone will not make existing social networks obsolete. For most ordinary users, blockchain and token technology seem to be tools looking for problems rather than solutions. Many people neither understand these technologies nor care about their theoretical advantages.

That said, I think it is short-sighted to treat SocialFi as a flash in the pan - it does have potential.

First, giving users and creators the ability to directly earn revenue from their contributions is a concept with far-reaching implications. On traditional social platforms, the value created by users is often monopolized by the platform. If SocialFi allows users to share these values fairly, whether through tips, participation rewards, NFT sales, token incentives, or direct profit mechanisms within the platform, this may reshape the rules of the industry. It aligns the platform's incentives with the interests of users and inspires deeper user participation; and this alignment of incentives is the most difficult to achieve in many industries.

Second, the "composability" characteristics inherent in Web3 technology can inspire powerful new application scenarios. Users' social identity and reputation can be transformed into portable assets in the SocialFi application. On different platforms, the efforts and time invested by users can be seamlessly transferred and utilized. An ecosystem with high composability at the data and asset levels can greatly improve interoperability and functionality. Of course, a potential weakness of this model is that the SocialFi platform may not have the closed network effect of traditional social platforms, but this also brings more freedom and choice to users.

Third, the decentralized governance and user sovereignty of Web3 are extremely attractive to those who are disappointed by the opaque and irresponsible management of Web2 giants. As issues such as privacy, censorship, and platform power become more of a concern, a truly decentralized alternative centered around user experience and supported by an active community could appeal to a specific subculture seeking change. It is important that these platforms are truly decentralized to ensure they are resistant to censorship, manipulation, or corruption, thereby earning the trust of their users.

Fourth, it would be unwise to underestimate the cultural creativity and technical expertise that has poured into the SocialFi space. While much of this is driven by speculation, there are also many talented people working to solve real problems. Web3 innovations, such as zero-knowledge proofs, token incentives, and community governance, have the potential to enable entirely new social networking experiences.

Finally, the user experience is the key to judging the success of SocialFi. If the SocialFi platform cannot provide an experience that attracts users at scale and prioritizes user satisfaction and smooth interactions over technical perfection, then no amount of cryptography or engineering will guarantee success.

The success or failure of the SocialFi platform will not depend on the sophistication of its codebase or the theoretical appeal of its token economics. The key is whether they can provide real value and convenience to users and enhance these experiences with social, financial, and decentralized advantages.

The key to attracting and maintaining an active user base is to create an experience that feels intuitive, engaging, and rewarding from the first contact. As SocialFi platforms continue to grow, they must continually adapt to the changing needs and preferences of their users, ensuring that security and engineering advances enhance rather than hinder the overall user experience and the creation and consumption of content.

For the SocialFi platform to succeed, it must foster a vibrant, passionate, and engaged community. Every user interaction should be meaningful and delightful. Creating this enduringly engaging user experience requires deep insights into the complexity of human psychology and social interaction, and finding the right balance between delivering delight and delivering real value.

SocialFi’s success depends on its ability to rise above the hype and short-term speculation to truly meet users’ deep needs for connection, recognition, creative expression, and personal autonomy, while satisfying their expectations for economic benefits and capital appreciation.

If SocialFi can achieve these goals by providing a superior user experience, creating substantial value for users and creators, and through true decentralization, i.e. returning control to individuals, it has the potential to revolutionize our traditional understanding of social networking and redefine what social networking is and where it should be.

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