Is there an alternative to Facebook?

Social media has a value to those who use it. That value is found only when we can connect with people. That’s why Facebook has become so successful. As a platform, Facebook’s strength is that…well, pretty much everyone you know is on there. If one was to try and leave Facebook and go to another social network, the major problem you would encounter would be the lack of people on the new network. A social network needs people to be…well, social. Since Facebook has the people, it has a value that no other social network can match.

The problem with Facebook is the high signal to noise ratio.  You have all those people you friended because you felt bad about saying no, and all those people who are acquaintances but whom you don’t know very well, and those people who didn’t like you in high school but friended you anyway so you friended them back because…wait, why did you do that again?  Then there are the apps.  The apps that clutter up your wall, the apps that share you information with…well who its being shared with isn’t really clear, is it?  Then there’s all that abysmal privacy stuff.

I would leave facebook, if there was a clear alternative.

But that thought got me thinking.  What is the value of the social networks I belong to to me as an artist?  Aside from Facebook, what do I use sites like Twitter or Linkedin for? I mostly use twitter to either follow people I find interesting (celebrities and authors) as well as industry people (actors, directors, theatre companies, etc).  Linkedin was originally used for keeping me linked to theatre-people that I had worked with, or were in my circle.  However, as time went on, people from my Day Jobtm started to find their way onto my profile.  Now, people from the day job outnumber the entertainment people on Linked in.  That’s not a bad thing, its just not what I intended.

If there was a viable social network that was aimed at just people in the entertainment industry, I would join it.  I don’t think I would completely ditch Facebook though. It has its uses socially.  But I would probably lock down my facebook profile, make it non-searchable, and cull some of those people I really don’t know, and start a “page” to connect with people that I don’t know (I feel kind of weird about having a “fan page” considering I don’t really have “fans”, but wth).  That way I’d still have the connection with friends, but I could move my professional connections over to the new platform.

Would it be possible to have some social network just for people in the entertainment industry?  Its possible that I could create a social network using Open Source software that could be intended for people in the Entertainment industry.   The software to do this exists right now in the form of Elgg, or  maybe Diaspora (provided that’s something installable) when its completed.  The problem in starting such a thing up, would be the whole issue of what makes a social network valuable: people. It would take time to grow, and if people did join, it could only be valuable to them if they invited their fellow colleagues as well.

So, I pose the question to other people in the entertainment industry: do you find Facebook useful professionally?  Would you use a social network focused on actors, directors, writers, casting directors, etc?


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