The Beginning of Something Different for Facebook and Social Media

Facebook, for all intents and purposes, has always been the same. Yes, there have been minor and sometimes drastic overhauls to the ubiquitous social media network, but overall, its general purpose has remained the same: A platform for us to socialize with our friends and share interesting stories, news and other updates.

Possibly the biggest contribution that Facebook has made to the world around it and for Facebook users is that it has grown. From social connect buttons, to like buttons to share buttons, social media and Facebook have completely evolved the way that we interact with things on the web.

And then I came to the startling realization, some months ago, that Facebook was quickly becoming the epicenter of the web. Rarely, though, did I ever wonder whether or not anyone else shared a similar perspective on the social media behemoth. And then I learned that someone did  share a similar perspective, and that that someone was none other than Bill Nguyen, creator of Lala and current founder of Color. And with Color, Bill is hoping to implement significant change into how we interact with Facebook and, particularly, the status update.

But you’re probably wondering just what, exactly, Color is. First, I’ll briefly describe to you what it was, or, rather, what it was trying to be.

When Nguyen had originally conceived of Color, he envisioned it as a mobile social media network completely unattached to Facebook. Essentially, it was a photo app that would store photos based on the location that they were taken, and whenever anyone else on the app got within 150 feet of those photos, they would be able to view them. It was a social network for the increasingly mobile world – one that thrived in the post-PC world and one that was intended, as Nguyen suggests, to usurp Facebook in a lot of ways. It was supposed to become the next Facebook.

But an ugly launch, and an even uglier reception quashed all of those hopes and dreams, and instead forced the company — one that was backed by tons of press and over $40 million of venture capital support — to head back to the drawing board and try again.

Now, with Nguyen and his employees preparing for round 2, the naivety that had pushed them so blindly into their first attempt at turning Color into something amazing isn’t as apparent. Instead, Nguyen and friends have accepted that addressing Facebook – a platform that has already built up hundreds of millions of users – was their first and primary concern. Instead of trying to create something entirely different, Color now seeks to implement something entirely different into something that already exists.

According to Nguyen, the status update has needed an update for quite some time, and now with Color, he seeks to finally implement that change. In the redesigned version of Color, Color instead focuses on a new feature called Visit, which basically allows for Facebook users to host 30-second video clips of what they are doing — be it at a concert or just at the office — and give their Facebook friends the ability to share those visits with their friends online, allowing them to watch the clips live and comment on them.

So instead of simply sharing text with friends in order to tell them what we are up to, we can let them view it with their own eyes.

But still, in a lot of ways, Color has conceded to the bully that is Facebook. And they probably won’t be the last company to concede that Facebook has already achieved a huge level of success, and that the solution isn’t to create another network around Facebook, but rather within it.

Maybe this is the future. Rather than trying to build the next Facebook, companies will instead use the already huge amount of resources built into the platform, and utilize those resources in order to innovate what’s already there.

And maybe Color just failed because they couldn’t live up to the hype. Maybe there is a future in creating mobile social networks that they just weren’t capable of.