There’s an article in The New York Times (via TechCrunch) about the demise of Color, the something something photo sharing something location-or-other app that got a lot of attention months ago for raising $41 million and was therefore, far more annoyingly, responsible for another rash of “bubble” rumblings.
The TechCrunch article says Color “was supposed to be the app that changed proximity-based sharing.” The Times describes it as a “photo-sharing cellphone application.” Color’s website says:
Simultaneously use multiple iPhones and Androids to capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album. There’s no attaching, uploading, or friending to do.
I downloaded Color to my iPhone when it launched, played with it for about two minutes and gave up on it. When you open the app, what passes for instructions is a drawing of a bunch of people apparently taking pictures either of nothing or of one another with their smart phones. The legend says, “Take photos together.”
Why? Of what?
Now I’m not just being curmudgeonly. I use a lot of apps, social media and otherwise, that many people would consider pointless. Plus, I wanted to like Color; I like taking photos and I like social networking. But, in the time I was willing to spend, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with Color or why it would be fun and interesting. I can almost get it, but not quite.
I’m not necessarily an early adopter and over the last few years I’ve been concentrating on enterprise social media, so most of the questions I’ve fielded and explored have been about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs. They all have their skeptics, but it’s not that hard to explain the value of each to someone willing to keep an open mind.
To people not on Facebook who ask me why they should care, I tell them that Facebook is creating, essentially, a “shadow Internet” that makes it easier to share news, messages, photos, videos and other information with people you choose to connect with. Most people, unless they’re just being bloody minded, can see the value in that. (To the people who ask, “Why should I care what my friends are doing?”, I have no answer nor do I wish to help you work that one out. Maybe you need more interesting friends.)
When people ask me about Twitter, I tell them it’s a messaging service that allows you to get short news updates on a variety of topics from people and organizations you find interesting and valuable. I show them how I get the majority of my news, both about my profession and the world in general, from Twitter. Again, even the skeptics who conclude it’s not for them can see that it’s not just a waste of time.
I tried to understand Color and couldn’t, and still don’t. Hence my suggested rule for investing, as described in the title. Can you explain the value of the social network you want to invest in (or build) in 50 words or less in a way that your parents will understand? Without a digression? Without PowerPoint?
(Of course, I’m old and so are my parents, so you might want to substitute “grandparents.”)
I’m not worried about a bubble fueled by social media because I’m convinced that a great deal of what is being created is worthwhile and valuable. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of hype and money going in the wrong directions.
If the elevator pitch only makes sense to other folks inside the social media fishbowl, maybe that should tell you something.