social networks

Social networks are the buzz of this year. So naturally I am attracted to the phenomenon. Not so much as a user but as a business.

Social networks are not new. We like many other life forms love to be social. Social groups extend our identity beyond oneself into a larger entity.

Groups form around a common theme or love, which has an emotional connection with the individuals.

Toastmasters, lionsclub, fan club are all social groups formed around a common theme in rel world. So social groups are nothing new. Just that technology is enabling to build faster, larger and more infectious communities.

Myspace – young
Flickr – photography
Digg – tech news
Wiki – general knowledge

Most of the current social networks are closed systems. You get to interact with who have similarly joined the same network. One cannot participate without being a permanant ( sort of) member of the network.

Size of the group, emotional connectedness, dynamic/ aliveness are few intersting parameters for measuring these groups. Advertisers for instance would love larger, emotionally deeper, dynamic groups.

Broader the common theme, lesser is the emotional connectedness. Narrower the theme, however, smaller the size of group. Each group might gravitate towards its optimum size, connectedness and dynamism.

If product manfucturers or service providers identify one such common theme for their target market, they could reap huge benefits by building a community around that theme. CAUTION:this like a the goose which lays golden eggs. Don’t kill the goose by selling your stuff, as if it is another channel.

Is there an opportunity in developing technology tools to enable this. Can a tool – like ning – help business make more money, deeper impact?

I am sure non-profits already know this trick. Question is whether this is a feasible thing for commercial orgs. Or this will go the CRM way. And mainly is this a fad or real thing evolving.

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