Cafe Witness

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Many Social Networks Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently joined Virb, on the advice of Justine, who proudly proclaims Virb to be the new and improved version of MySpace.

I agree, Virb is nice. It's clean. It allows for increased customizability without needing to resort to trolling the internet for hacks and codes. And because it's so new, it doesn't have the profile that attracts spammers (yet).

But why do I need Virb? I already have a MySpace.

Tool Time

I've also been toying with Ning and People Aggregator, which are two sites that allow you, the user, to CREATE YOUR OWN social networks.

Why?

What will your new social network do that you can't already accomplish with a forum, a message board, or a Twitter account?

Some people like, Steve Garfield, use Ning as a catch-all for existing groups, like Boston Mediamakers. That would make sense, as long as the group doesn't already have its own website or wiki.

After all, isn't asking people to come to two different sources for the same information a bit redundant? And if there's different information on both sites, isn't that a bit presumptuous to assume that a group's members have the time and interest to visit both sites regularly?

As with your blog and your actual site, all peripherals -- MySpace, Twitter, wikis, etc. -- must build back to the same brand. They must build on the overall experience for a member of your group -- or, in STBD's case, our fans -- rather than creating a disjointed, cacophonous racket.

They Can't All Be Screwdrivers

However, that's not to say you can't happily maintain a presence on numerous social networking platforms.

The question is, WHAT DO YOU DO at each of them?

As the grandaddy of the form, MySpace has one thing going for it: numbers. It's easier to aggregate a large audience there than anywhere else, solely because they already have the userbase. If you need to get a message out fast to the legions, MySpace is the place to do it.

So why use another service? Because perhaps there are actions you can take there that you can't take at MySpace.

Let's consider Virb again. What are the pros?

- Clean
- Easily customizable
- Everything is taggable
- Shareable playlists
- No spam (yet)

And the cons?

- Small(er) userbase
- Small(er) growth rate
- Potential redundancy with MySpace

So, from a user-end POV, if I didn't already have a MySpace, I'd choose Virb in a heartbeat. Presuming it'll continue to grow at a healthy clip as more and more people discuss it, it may become the social networking site of choice for people who prefer it to the five-and-dime look (and interface) of MySpace.

What potential actions could be taken on a smaller, more nimble platform? Could Virb be used to:

- Create a "street team" of more centralized, passionate individuals?
- Recruit extras for filming group scenes, with friends sorted by location tags?
- Program a faux-podcast using the built-in shareable playlist feature?
- Easily buzz businesses for sponsorships or event hosting, using friend tags?
- Encourage fans to customize their own brand-themed Virb pages?

MySpace has long been established as a place where users come to "hang out" and exchange information about themselves. With a name like "Virb," it seems only natural that the site could be used for far more action-oriented experiences.

What other ways could you use Virb?

What other ways could you use other social networks?

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4 Comments:

  • I agree that your site on Virb looks great. It's much nicer than myspace from a looks POV. I didn't log in yet, though Justine was kind enough to hook me up with a pass to try it out.

    I have lots of thoughts on this, but will have to comment later.

    By Blogger Chris Brogan, at 10:11 AM  

  • You are dead on about redundancy. If one is to do something like this, I believe People Aggregator is the best option. Here's why:

    PA allows you to download and host it off your own server. Make your P.A. site BE your show's site. Don't have a "ghost page" where your media is hosted and nobody ever goes (because of Democracy or Veoh or Blip.TV). Put all your chips in one bag.

    So host your media and have your PR pages AND all the social stuff built off one platform at one domain.

    That's my thinking, anyway

    By Anonymous Kevin Kennedy-Spaien, at 10:32 AM  

  • Kevin: Keeping every egg in the same basket may not be the best way to encourage people to find your site / media in the first place, though.

    At this stage, is it better to have tight control of your small audience, or have less control over a potentially ever-widening audience? Not using Blip (etc.) also means one would need to upload and host all media themselves, AND puts the onus of all promotions upon them directly, rather than allowing others to stumble upon it through other highly-trafficked sites.

    That also gives People Aggregator (or whomever else) a LOT more control over one's wellbeing than I'd think would be agreeable, no?

    There's a way to use PA for good (not evil), but I'm not sure what that is... yet.

    By Blogger Justin Kownacki, at 12:00 PM  

  • I say have an account everywhere and let people choose where they want to add you [and just try to sway them to your preferred site, such as Virb]. It's not really about what we want, it's more of what will make it easier for them to find us.

    :)

    By Blogger justine, at 3:18 PM  

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