The Great Gatsby has nothing on you. Neither does Paris Hilton for that matter. For all the reluctant extolling of East Egg virtue by Nick Carroway, the social aspect has met its match through the new social networking model.
Look at the culture today – MySpace and Facebook dominate the cyberspace landscape, challenged by a myriad of upstarts every day. As a great business principle suggests, you live and someone else learns how to copy you and live better. With the rush to meet the user generated content explosion, a limitless number of copycats join the ranks in order to cash in on the ubiquitous idea that social networking is where it’s at.
Frankly, they are right to follow. But only because many web consumers are willing to argue, “What have you done for me lately?”
Research has shown that the female user is more apt to gravitate towards a social networking site and refer its content to other friends and neighbors. Really, what this means is that not only have many businesses learned that social networking is a powerful user-generated medium, but they have also discovered that along with the social network comes the ideal early adopter. Along with social networking online comes the ideal influencer…someone who is not only able but more apt to talk to others about you.
That is to say, all joking aside about Paris, Fitzgerald or any person familiar with the inner workings of social groups, web users are flocking to that particular model. So, in a very real sense – it is good to be a socialite. And if you are good at it, others will share the news.
But the question remains, how does your particular business or website capitalize on this phenomenon? This is where things get tricky.
To develop the confluence of tactics and “big ideas” necessary to make your own social network shine is a mighty challenge. Not to be glib, but it’s vaguely similar in concept to realizing that you need to cure cancer. Understanding you need to do it is one thing. Curing the disease is another thing altogether.
Key principles in creating a good custom, social network application for your site remain:
• Post regular, fresh comments (which, not so incidentally, also help your search rank).
• Get your blog or comments read and posted for you on other sites, and then have them provide links back to you.
• Give the user an honest, easy way to share their insights, content and ideas in a trusted environment.
I leave you with a recent lesson learned: Facebook.com launched Beacon, their advertising model, a while back to dismal results. Conceptually, it made sense. You could let other friends and family know what you purchased and they, in turn, would support those products as well…
Unfortunately, Facebook seemed to underestimate the user’s adverse reaction to advertisers migrating into “their” space.
So, the lesson is this: While we know social networking is great for user engagement and time spent online with your site, you may fall flat on your face unless you try and try again…unless you commit to adjusting and testing your innovative social idea.
You could find the exact key you need to succeed in the social networking world – I encourage you to definitely try. But remember, just as easily you could find yourself wading in the pool, staring heavenward, wondering just what went wrong with your social world.