Instead of building new social networks, which face high barriers to entry (due to the dominance of existing players like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok), now is a better time to build "social utilities."

Social utilities sit on a spectrum - on one end are 'single-player tools' that provide utility to individual users, and on the other end are full-fledged social networks. The authors, Anu and Bharat, suggest that starting with a single-player tool can help bootstrap a user base and retention before introducing any social/network features.

They cite Instagram as an example, which starting as a photo editing tool before becoming a social network for sharing photos.

"I think it's the wrong time to build a new social network. There's something more compelling to build β€” something I refer to as a social utility."

Key points:

  • Social networks face high barriers to entry now

  • "Social utilities" provide more opportunity

  • Start with compelling single-player utility, t

    hen add social/network features

  • Focus on utility dimension rather than just entertainment/social capital

Overall, they suggest focusing on utility, rather than just entertainment or social capital accumulation (like most social networks), is an under-explored and valuable opportunity for product builders.