De Telegraaf Media Group (TMG) has bought the Dutch Social media website Hyves for an undisclosed figure, rumoured to be 40 million euros . The Telegraafs interest in the site must be relatively recent however!
What does TMG hope to gain ?
In every article one reads on the subject, it is noted that Hyves is big in the Netherlands with 8 to 9 million members, compared to only 1 million Dutch members for Facebook. One can also find
that Hyvers spend much more time and money in Hyves than Facebookies spend in Facebook. The TMG group was already expanding its online presence and has been active with sites like “Geen Stijl” and “relatie planet” as well as with a its own radio channel “sky radio”. Thus, it seems that TMG is buying three main assets
• Marketshare. This should be obvious from the above figure. The question here is whether Hyves can keep its market share and first mover advantage. Obviously, Facebook is a very serious competitor which has been pushing local competitors of the market in many markets.
• Marketing Information and opportunities. Online profiles contain lots of marketing information. Hyves has made it clear that they are deeply concerned about privacy, but it is rather unclear what that statement means. Selling information directly would make TMG and Hyves vulnerable to reputation damage, but a scenario whereby TMG uses information on private Hyves pages for targeting advertisements in all its media offerings seems much more likely.
• Crossmedial opportunities. TMG controlling several media, is obviously well targeted for using them in combination. The website “Geen stijl” scorning Hyves as the littl of social media and calling upon its readers to unsubscribe should not be taken very serious (as a matter of principle). The great question here, is whether there is actual synergy. See marketing information and opportunities. A publisher is in the business of selling advertisements so being able to give targeted advertisements and having an additional advertisement channel may be all the synergy that is required to make the deal profitable. Content wise, the owner of a social media platform is dependent on its users (by definition of social media ), so synergy must come from making the different media more attractive by direct coupling to and from Hyves. Unfortunately for TMG, such integration requires software development and investments. This is where Facebook has a serious competitive advantage because its development costs are spread over a much larger market, and its development infrastructure is already much rather more extensive and better developed than that of Hyves.
The business model for social media platforms is not at all easy, and there is a strong network, and therefore a strong “winner takes all” effect. It will therefore be interesting to see if TMG manages to make a success out of
Hyves, or that TMG has just jumped on the social media bandwagon (see the social media movie and this hilarious fake trailer on twitter)
The beehive of the holy rightwing church
What is conspicuously missing from this list, is content itself. One cannot exclude the possibility that the Telegraaf newspaper will cover the bowels of the Dutch society, “hart van Nederland” style, by listening in on the buzz on Hyves. However, that will have serious privacy issues, and in any case, will require serious filtering. It can therefore hardly be free content. Likewise, it will be interesting to see what “Geen Stijl” will be doing. Geen Stijl is positioning itself as fiercely independent and makes a lot of fuzz about being an interactive 2.0 medium. Indeed the possibility to comment is widely used by the “reaguurders”, and pictures and videoclips (dirty or otherwise shocking) are regularly uploaded as well. However, content is clearly heavily dominated, and filtered by the editorial board so Geen Stijl cannot possibly be called a social medium. However, that should not stop a rapprochement
between Geen Stijl en Hyves, at the very least on the technical level.
Eventually, what makes social media interesting is what people write and do there. That will primarily depend on what it makes easy, unless people feel insecure to leave their content there. Maybe we are all wrong and in two years time social media are soooo turn of the century, but I doubt it. The desire to be able to show parts of ourselves and to control what we show, seems to be deeply ingrained in society, or maybe even in our mating rituals and our genes.