Composting turns something once ripe into good dirt for the next crop to grow from. The process of composting is basically rot, so it smells and doesn’t always look so great and generally gets hidden from polite company in a container or at a dedicated location (shout out Atlas Organics).

And…what does this have to do with marketing and technology and stuff?

I think “social media” is in the composting phase (it’s not the only thing, but this isn’t a politics newsletter).

The era of The Wall™ is over. The era of The Feed™ is ending, at least Feed 1.0 (and maybe 2.0, I honestly don’t know what iteration we’re on right now). Connections got maxed out, so now everything is about discovery via curation. Taste matching instead of connection checking.

It’s a bit surprising that it took this long, since this shift signifies moving from who you know and what you claim to care about to what you actually spend your time doing. Behavior over facade.

There are five main networks (that I know of) that either haven’t capitulated to Meta, grew despite not being Meta, or terrify Meta: Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

None of them are a “social network” in the stereotypical sense.

Snapchat focuses on private messaging and AR. It’s social, but in a close friends way. (just like iMessage is Apple’s killer social app)

TikTok focuses on entertainment, and does not consider itself a social media app (as they will tell you every chance they get). Social mechanisms are wrapped around the content focus.

Pinterest focuses on search. The index is filled with content via social mechanisms.

YouTube focuses on videos and hosting. The social aspects are bolted onto video.

LinkedIn focuses on “professionals” and “work.” Both used loosely here as they are imperfect descriptors, but the niche is what’s powering the platform’s recent success. It is the most similar to Facebook, but it has an audience to focus on (and that audience isn’t “everyone”).

At various times, all of these apps were considered social media. Likely because they are all built on user generated content (UGC) and network effects. They scale via social mechanisms, but they aren’t social media as Facebook popularized it.

A lot of words are spilled on the internet related to the rot and the composting process. But what will grow out of this digital soil?