The Future of Social Media: Unlocking Virality and the Convergence of Community and Commerce


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 07, 2023

3 min read


The Future of Social Media: Unlocking Virality and the Convergence of Community and Commerce


In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, the ability to achieve viral success has become a coveted achievement for startups. One prime example of this is Pinterest, which experienced a remarkable rise in monthly unique visitors, from 40,000 to 3.2 million, within just one year. This article explores the factors behind Pinterest's viral growth and delves into the predictions for the future of social media in 2021.

The Power of Virality:

Contrary to popular belief, achieving pure virality is not the only pathway to building a sustainable business. While pure virality relies on users referring new users, it is equally important to retain existing users for consistent growth. Daily active users and monthly active users have become crucial metrics for CEOs and investors, highlighting the significance of user engagement and retention.

Pinterest's Unique Journey:

Unlike many startups that experience early "hype spikes," Pinterest had a slow start, with only 40,000 unique visitors eight months after its launch. However, Pinterest's success lies in its ability to perfect a soft onboarding of virality based on high engagement. The key was to create a product that people love and will continuously return to. By leveraging web content from platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest harnessed the power of network effects without relying heavily on user-generated content.

The Role of Product Iteration:

Pinterest's success story also involved continuous product tweaks to enhance sharing and engagement, allowing viral techniques to take hold. This iterative approach ensured that users had a seamless experience when pinning content, ultimately driving growth. Furthermore, Pinterest mastered in-network virality through features like pinning, repinning, and liking, while simultaneously capitalizing on out-of-network sharing through platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Predictions for the Future:

Looking ahead to 2021, several trends are expected to shape the social media landscape. First, there will likely be a rise in both censorship and less censorship, as platforms like Twitter and Parler navigate the delicate balance between freedom of expression and community guidelines. Additionally, the convergence of community and commerce will become more prominent, mirroring the social hangouts and transactional nature of shopping malls in the 1990s.

Implicit Social Networking and Audio Networks:

Implicit social networking, where users automatically share information such as location or music preferences, will gain traction. This shift will enable users to effortlessly engage with their social networks without explicit decisions to post. Furthermore, the rise of audio social networks is anticipated, with one resembling a "Twitter for Audio" platform and another embodying the spirit of Houseparty for audio interactions.

The Emergence of Crypto Communities:

As cryptocurrencies continue to gain mainstream attention, social media platforms may experiment with integrating crypto layers into their business models. This innovation could lead to the emergence of breakout crypto communities, where users can engage, transact, and explore novel ways of virtual hangouts.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize user engagement and retention: Focus on building a product that users love and continuously come back to. Iterate and refine features to enhance sharing and engagement.
  • 2. Explore in-network virality: Develop features that encourage users to interact within the platform, such as pinning, repinning, and liking. Leverage out-of-network sharing options to expand reach.
  • 3. Keep an eye on emerging trends: Stay informed about the evolving social media landscape, including implicit social networking, audio networks, and the integration of cryptocurrencies. Identify opportunities for your startup to leverage these trends.

In conclusion, achieving viral success requires a combination of user engagement, retention, and iterative product development. Pinterest's journey showcases the importance of perfecting a soft onboarding of virality while creating a product that users love. Looking ahead, the convergence of community and commerce, implicit social networking, and the rise of audio and crypto communities will shape the future of social media. By staying informed and adapting to emerging trends, startups can position themselves for success in this ever-evolving landscape.

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