Another Social Network? Sure. Why Not?

by francine Hardaway on March 8, 2012

Yesterday I was talking by phone (how odd) to an entrepreneur who has built a niche social network, and I was telling him how difficult it would be to get funding for yet another social network, and how little we needed one, and …blah,blah,blah. And then Thomas Power sent out this Venn diagram on Google +, asking his friends whether they thought it was a good description of the way our current “Big 3” social networks operate.

Clearly (to me) it is. I divide my time pretty equally among them all, and  I have evolved a pretty careful taxonomy of what I post where, or what I look for on each network.

On Twitter, like everyone else I look for breaking news (somebody’s death, election results, ball scores, and the iPad announcement). If I want to know about something or someone, I search Twitter by person or by hashtag. But there is seldom a great conversation about ideas happening on Twitter: those happen on Google+.

I go to Google+ to communicate with thought leaders who actually post their own writing or the writing of other smart people there. The posts spark long and involved discussions on everything from biomedical advances to social business. Certain topics among the health care people I follow are beyond me (how proteins are methylated); this could never happen on Twitter or Facebook. I can learn from Google+.  I know you’re going to tell me that’s what Quora is for, but people on Quora began to show off, and I lost interest. Quora just doesn’t have the social component.

When I want to see what my niece and nephew are up to, or what my brother is ranting about, I go to Facebook, where I can also find cousins I have never met in person — the sons and daughters of people I left behind forty years ago when I left New York City. On Facebook, I can also find some friends I hardly ever see, even though we live in the same town, and new photos of everyone’s baby. And then I can find out what events I’ve been invited to, or might want to attend.

My content creation patterns for these sites have come to follow my consumption patterns. While I used to delight in “feeding” my Twitter posts to Facebook, I stopped doing it when my brother complained that he had to mute me or he couldn’t see any of his other friends. By this time in my social media arc, I’ve learned that things get a better reception if you DON’T just spray them all over the place. (Well, I at least think twice before I do).

My conclusion from all of this is that EVERY social network is a niche network, and every one has a slightly different purpose, even if they weren’t designed that way. If that weren’t true, Pinterest would never had taken off among the visually talented, or Foursquare among the stalkers. That means the bigger networks aren’t necessarily competitors, either. Not everyone shops in a supermarket or a department store; many people like specialty shops and boutiques.

Oh, and I hear the numbers are going up on MySpace again, too, since Justin Timberlake bought it.

All this is only to say “never rule out a new niche social network.” Life will soon be a meshed web of different social networks–each with its own purpose and constituency.


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Another Social Network? Sure. Why Not? | Freeex Blog
March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm

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