What would it take to kill Facebook without something that is just as bad (go away G+)?
First of all, email integration would be key. Ideally, existing email addresses could be routed through the new system, so it could act like an email client. Email is already an open communications protocol. Using existing email addresses is important because no one wants another email address to manage. We do, however, want to manage our communications from one place. This will ease the transition out of Facebook because everyone already uses email to some extent, and leaning on this dependable communications channel will ensure that people can stay connected during a years long migration period.
It has to have some sort of Aspects or Circles functionality. We need to be able to present different content to different audiences. Once we can differentiate who we share with, it is critical that the media sharing options be robust and flexible. Both of these qualities have been implemented in many different networks already, so this is actually the easy part.
A long-term advertising campaign is necessary to create and maintain awareness. Facebook doesn’t advertise because it doesn’t need to. A new platform doesn’t have that luxury. If this new network can impassion some creative people it can start a crowd-sourced advertising campaign. Create a theme, a core message, and then let users run with it. Ideally, this would be planned out with multistage messages encouraging joining, then migration.
Any new platform would have to compliment Facebook, but also stand on its own. Ideally, this service would need to add value to Facebook initially (à la Instagram), to encourage people to join it. Upon joining, though, users should find themselves jumping back over to Facebook with decreasing frequency.
Finally, the whole thing should be built with the mobile space in mind. Facebook’s weakness is it’s mobile presence. Facebook apps have historically been disappointing. Home, the newly announced Facebook mobile presence, may change this, but for right now, there is an opportunity for a social network to work better on mobile.
It’s no wonder it hasn’t happened. This all adds up to a daunting endeavor. Of course, any new platform needs to be open and decentralized, or else it is no better than Facebook at all. No one has successfully monetized an open, decentralized social network, though. Low monetization potential means little incentive for anyone to even try. Diaspora* is an example of a great idea, that is initially driven by passion, but that has no revenue source.
For now we’re left waiting, perfectly content on Facebook–just not happy.