Social Networking’s Gold Rush
The New York Times has an interesting article today about social networking and its next phase. Most have followed the meteoric rise of social networking sites like MySpace.com, FaceBook, and others. They became so very popular when users discovered that they could not just read content, but congregate with others around the content, communicate with others about the content, and in some ways actually become the content. Advertising dollars and investment capital have quickly followed.
At this point, it seems like countless sites are trying to figure out how to tap into the social networking phenomenon (and capital pool). You hear fairly often that we’re going to be “the MySpace of X” or “the MySpace of Y.” While this isn’t necessarily a bad goal, I wonder how realistic it is.
The article in The Times brings up two good points. First, it’s tough to convince users to join a social networking site when there are few other members; starting from scratch has even proven difficult for Nike’s Joga.com. Second, it is inconvenient for users to go through the registration process for more than one or two of these sites.
It’s almost a necessity for every corporation to be thinking about social networking and how to integrate it into a marketing and/or customer service strategy. But I think that most would do better to explore joining existing ommunities instead of creating new ones.