If you haven’t noticed, virtually any social media service that hopes to survive invariably has to integrate with the big players (Facebook chief among them). Nearly a year ago, MySpace succumbed to the pressure and permitted some limited integration with Facebook; this month they enabled Facebook Connect (allowing its users to log in with their Facebook credentials).
Seamless integration is increasingly central to social networking platforms, and there are any number of tools from Digsby to Hootsuite to TweetDeck allow users to seamlessly manage their disparate social media presences. This is a leap from the olden days of social media when your profile and content were locked into a proprietary database and leaving meant starting over from scratch, clumsily cutting and pasting text and re-uploading photos and video into a new site (I remember that mind-numbing process going from CollegeClub to MySpace).
As the tools that enable integration continue to improve, how will social networking platforms retain their users? That is to say: when your identity is completely portable and you can manage it how you choose, jumping from platform to platform with little difficulty, why would you tie yourself down to any one service that might limit your capabilities? Whatever happens – the end user will be the winner (as they’ll be able to hold the threat of leaving over any platform to demand better treatment).
It would be great to see what social networking sites could do sharing data and working on concert as opposed to competition.