Wednesday, September 5

Targeting Nomads: Social Networks

“MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN: Social networking is probably the biggest change in how people use the web. With nearly 100M visitors there is something going on here, yet it hasn’t taken off behind the firewall.” — Paul Pedrazzi, OracleAppsLab

Pedrazzi is not alone in wondering just what social networks might do for business. Geoff Livingston, on his new Now Is Gone book blog, noted that Facebook doesn’t build communities as much it reconnects existing relationships. Michel Fortin concludes “it's not a viable marketing tool. At least, not for me.”

So why all the hype? Enough hype that the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Britain felt the need to issue a release defending worker on-the-job access to social networking sites. That eight percent of businesses report they are actually afraid of employee backlash if they ban social networks. That some claim social networks are an integral ingredient in our cyberspace environment.

Social networks present a viable and worthwhile consideration for any social media mix, but they do not seem well suited to support a sustainable communication strategy or meaningful content. More often than not, they are consumer-generated content billboards for traditional and new media (blogs) hoping to capture online nomads as they wander their way to watering holes for individual conservations, gossip, fun, and games.

Sure, a few have worthwhile applications like the questions/answers at LinkedIn or BlogCatalog discussions, which do lend well to creating a sense of community. Open niche networks like work well too.

These examples aside, social networks seem best suited to be what early blogs hoped to be — a place for individuals to connect and have two-way conversations when they aren’t trying to out-scoop each other on finding new online content to talk about. There is nothing wrong with that.

Yet, sooner or later, the mad rush for numbers will be over and people will stand around asking themselves did I invest all this time in the right social network? Probably not.

It makes sense for me as someone engaged in social media to check out all the new applications that are readily and frequently available (about 100 times more than most social media gurus actually write about). But if it wasn’t for this reason, I think I might have a different message all together … call me when the nomadic online wandering is over and I’ll bring by a house-warming gift.



Sweet Tea on 9/5/07, 12:05 PM said...

Hi Rich,
I've been under the weather but I'm back.
I'm just curious. I sort of remember when blogs started but weren't they more of a personal nature then? Social networks came along and now we have so many. This may be a dumb question but which has more effectiveness as far as niche branding?
Great article. Thanks.

Geoff_Livingston on 9/5/07, 12:16 PM said...

Hey, I just got my first opportunity offer on Facebook after four months. I told her I was married. I think I'll stick with LinkedIn.

Rich on 9/5/07, 1:10 PM said...

Hey Jane,

Great to hear you are feeling better! If we drop the niche term, I think BlogCatalog (as a social blog directory), LinkedIn (as a general social network), and RecruitingBlogs (as a professional recruiter network) all know who they are. (I'm learning my way around Jaiku right now; seems promising).

I think Facebook has no idea what it is anymore other than an online application; MyRagan knows what it wants to be, but it's struggling to prove it can be it; Tumblr has an interesting concept, but it misses on some functional issues; Twitter undersells what it could be (many top draw Twitters have moved on); and recently I was encouraged to try Yowie, which strikes me more as Yikesie.

Migration on the net right now is huge. Facebook will likely loose the most ground because in becoming the so-called new rolodex, it lost any semblance of what it could be. Geoff isn't the only one whose first proposition was for something other than professional connection.

It took four months Geoff? Sounds like she was waiting for the book. ;)



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