Friday, August 10, 2007

So you think you want to create your own social network?

Jeremiah Owyang at Web Strategies has a great post: A Checklist: Before you select that White Label Social Networking Site. The checklist contains some real gems to ask before you start down the path to building a community:

1) What business problem are you trying to fix? What’s broken? What does success look like (without mentioning features)

2) There are different tools for different problems, Are you sure a Social Networking site will fix this?

3) Where are your community/market/users currently?

4) Not sure? Then look again, don’t proceed farther until you find them.

5) Have you considered joining that community before creating your own? You know of the Walmart 10 week fiasco right? Trying to recreate MySpace doesn’t make sense because it already exists.

6) How open/closed to you want your community? Think about long term, does it scale?

7) What incentive are you creating with this SoNet that will drive users to your site and share?

8. How do you plan to kick start your community, you know that just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come

I especially like 3, 4, and 5. Your potential community members all belong to a social network somewhere. Even if you think you want to create your own, you need to join the existing. Social networks are far more complex than they appear on the surface. I don't know how long you need to be a member of a social network before you might decide to branch out, but I'm thinking it would be measured in years - not months.

Things may move fast on the internet, but community building is about wetware not software. Wetware requires careful attention to all those icky human sorts of things like caring, empathy, understanding, and trust. These are things that cannot be simply untarred and installed.

1 comment:

Floyd Davenport said...

Caring, empathy, understanding, and trust - OH MY.

How scary is that?