Social Media and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of any closed systemalways tends to increase, and thus the nature of any given system is always changing even as efforts attempt to maintain the original form. It is forever changing – even if you try to keep it the same.  Sound like Facebook or Google+?

Social media change and predictions

Social Media is changing like a melting ice cube

This second law of thermodynamics was adapted successfully to air-to-air combat and later used to maneuver warfare by one of the most brilliant military strategists of all time, USAF Col John Boyd – a modern day Sun Tzu. And I’ve adopted it to social media.

For the past 18 months, I have been overlaying Boyd’s principles on social media, (for more information join our Boyd LinkedIn group here). When Google first came out with Google+, Facebook introduced the Timeline, just after LinkedIn started updates, it got me thinking that no matter what people like (no pun intended) social media must keep changing – it has to follow the 2nd Law.  If you want to understand the future it helps to follow Boyd’s theories.

It’s important for companies to bet accurately where and when social media changes, and make moves based upon predictions before competitors do. As the CEO of one of the fastest growing social media companies, I’ve got a great seat at the show, which gives me an unfair advantage in my “orientation” (Part of Boyd’s OODA Loop) toward the subject. It’s only fair I should share.



Here are my best guesses as to where social media is going:

  1. Most obviously will be the removal of friction when sharing highly engaging activities. No more fumbling with mobile phones. dwinQ is obviously on the forefront of this. RFID, NFC and other wireless communications are just scratching the surface for social media; in two years new methods will amaze users.
  2. There will be one or two major winners and many “boutique” social media plays. Facebook, RenRen and Google+ will far eclipse other networks but there will be an important place for Foursquare, Tumblr, Pinterest,, etc. I call this the Doghnut theory – Dunkin Donuts sells way more chocolate frosted and jelly than anything else – but some people like colored sprinkles, others want a long crueller to dip in coffee, my son always amps up on double chocolate with chocolate jimmies. Same with social media. If I like taking pictures and showing my travel, Instagram is great, if I want to talk about the book I read over the weekend Wattpad might be my favorite.
  3. A private social network will emerge for which people pay to subscribe. It might be Google or Facebook who create this offering, but there is a set of people who don’t want their pictures, data, or location known to every analyst and marketer in the world. They will gladly pay $19.95 a month for a trusted private social network, and greater flexibility in formatting their information.
  4. Most workplaces will have a private internal social network. This will take the place of group emails for things like healthcare announcements, 401k information, congratulations/promotions, softball team updates, Fantasy Baseball Leagues, etc. Smart companies who put a premium on company ethos will do this first because it will help perpetuate a company culture.
  5. Social Media will become real time and influence immediate decision making. Already Thumb is helping people answer questions in real time, but no one trusts important questions to Thumb because they don’t know the people answering, it’s not their self-created network. Add the instant capability to ask your friends in real time a question – from the cost of a parking ticket on Yawkey Way to the best place to stay in Barcelona and you can get instant and trusted feedback to help you make better decision (BTW – a parking ticket right next to Jillian’s is $40 the same the guys a mile a way charge to park during Red Sox game day).

When I hit 80% on my predictions come back in two years give the praise to a great unsung American – Col John Boyd and realize he’s got some amazing lessons to teach us if we’d listen and apply them. The second law of thermodynamics is one of the more obvious he applies to warfare, and I’m applying to social media.

If removing the friction from social media is something you want to do for your fans you can read dwinQ’s short whitepaper on social media in the real world that can give you some of the details as to how you go about doing just that.

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