Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Social Networking: Problem of Plenty?
My interest in writing blogs with renewed vigor was with a post on Orkut. I was not sure if social networking sites were fad or would become part of our lives. A reflection on my behavior indicated that I was using Orkut to find out my existing contacts online and interact with them. I was not keen on newer friends, unless they were fairer variety. So, I felt social networking was at best an extension of Yahoo Groups. But, of course, social networking sites have grown on to became photo album, video album, birthday calendar, game parlor and many more such things.
When I thought Orkut was all that I needed, someone initiated me into Facebook. I opened an account and didn't use it actively, until recently. Then my mails were peppered with invitations to join WAYN and many others. I have resisted the temptation. When I thought going was fine, LinkedIn came along. It has become a must. It has become an essential for someone in the corporate world to be active on LinkedIn. It can get you partners, sales and jobs. So, I linked up. Now, the count is three.
And again I thought that this was enough. Then Twitter twittered into my life. The 140 word social networking, sms, microblogging tool has become very addictive. It’s four now.
A link shared on Twitter showed that while MySpace, Facebook and Orkut are the leading social networking sites in the world. There were many unheard local networking sites leading in different countries. Sonia’s research revealed that there are around 300. That is quite a bit considering the number of netizens in most countries, except for probably developed nations, is definitely low.
But I guess the need for people to network is far from being satiated. Once the number of internet users increase, the importance of such sites is likely to grow substantially. The survival of such sites itself will be interesting to watch out. While, Twitter doesn't have a revenue model, I guess Facebook, Orkut and the likes have or are developing revenue generation models.
On the differentiation front, I haven't used many sites to give my opinion but I think LinkedIn is the most differentiated for segmenting and going after the professionals. It has a well-differentiated offering. The other most differentiated social networking site is Twitter. Limited by 140 words, Twitter probably has a high adoption graph line compared to other social networking sites. It has real celebrities who Tweet real time. By the way, the part on why Internet, despite being a two-way media, still cannot solve the problem for celebrities in responding to fans is a good read, in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. While, one can do so many things in Facebook, Orkut…Twitter primarily acts as a message board.
Now, I have reconciled to the fact that I may for sure sign up for another social networking site if there is a different and attractive value proposition. I am not sure if I would need it, though. I have already started signing off TweetDeck for longer period.