Tag Archives: techcrunch

Do I need to create my own social network?

You'll need a compelling reason to cut your social network off from the rest of the social network universe

You'll need a compelling reason to cut yourself from the crowd

Look at this recent quote from Techcrunch’s Mike Arrington “Creating a separate social network makes little sense in the age of MySpace and Facebook”.

He’s highlighted a key change in thinking on how to build your social network platform over the past year. The big social networks have effectively commoditised vast swathes of previously competitive functionality:

  • authentication
  • web user interface standards
  • friend lists
  • groups
  • events
  • email
  • notifications
  • photo sharing
  • discussions

If you’re building a new social network on your own web site you’ll need to build all of the above. Not only that you’ll need to make sure the experience is as good as, if not better than these million dollar competitors. If you’ve got a complex sign up process – forget it – 80 million Facebook users really can’t be wrong.

There are very few decent reasons for implementing your own social network. These are as follows:

  • you’re dealing with commercially sensitive information that you don’t want Facebook or Myspace to see (think about intranets for banks)
  • your demographic aren’t on one of the big networks and probably never will be (this might legitimise the Saga zone business proposition but I doubt it – the crinklies are coming to Facebook I have no doubt, it’s just a matter of time)
  • your content would be illegal on the platform (you can’t gamble on Facebook so gambling communities need their own poker network etc)

Any other reasons people can think of?

Electronic communication triage

The things we worry about

As Facebook seeks to become our main communications platform (techcrunch this week) it’s worth noting that its platform has an unusual communication triage system.

Triage is the practice doctors use when trying to decide which patient should be treated first in emergency situations. It’s a way of figuring out who is most important.

Facebook appears to triage communications according to the following criteria:

  • effort required to create – how much (human) effort did it take to create the message
  • importance to user – how important is this message sender likely to be to the user

This means that on Facebook your messages will appear in one of the following boxes. Each is in decreasing order of importance and is given corresponding less space and attention bling on the user interface:

  1. Inbox – Highlighted at the top of the screen with Inbox (1) – who can’t help but check out what your friends have typed out and written to you. It takes effort to write a message so it features highly
  2. News Feed – a whole page of stories and activities from your friends (high importance) throttled and aggregated to make it interesting.
  3. Requests – a few clicks from a friend so the effort value is less but it is coming from a human
  4. Notifications – automated actions from a computer somewhere get a very small piece of screen real estate
  5. Updates – commercial mailings – low importance to the user and low effort (proportionally) to send to you

I for one like this triage – it certainly cuts down the information flow. I find the News Feed addictive and manageable to deal with – I only need to check it once a day (and I always do).

Roll on Facebook as the primary communications platform. At least I’ll never have to remember another email address…

Battle for news

As I’ve referred to on previous posts – the News Feed is the key battleground for social networks – I’m going to keep returning to the social network that provides me the most interesting daily diet of news about my friends and community of acquaintainces.

Till now the News Feed has still lacked one critical component – News from the wider community – what’s going in my country, or in the world for example.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could see breaking news videos appearing in your feed as well – that way you can keep up to date with those closest without losing touch with the big events that shape our world.

I’ve been working with Sky News to provide just this on Facebook. As reported yesterday on techcrunch uk, we’re providing a way that users can get breaking news videos appearing in their Facebook feed.

The app launches in a couple of weeks. Sign up as a Fan on the app pre-launch Fan page to be one of the first users.

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