Social Networks are everywhere and it seems like everyone is at least on one or six of them. Where are we going with this?
Almost everyone it seems belongs to a social network like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Jaiku, Plaxo, Roov, Friendfeed, Nexopia, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Orkut, Pownce, Xing or Eacademy and they are becoming more and more popular every day. I get so many request to join different ones that as soon as I see the requests I delete them. You only have so much time in the day to go check all your various networks. I like LinkedIn because as a businessman I don’t get bothered with pokes and hearts. I get to meet and search on other businessmen that I may be able to work with.
Most of the networks that I have seen have different cultures like MySpace and Facebook that seem to be designed for families and friends wheras, Xing, Ecademy and LinkedIn are more business aligned.
How many people are using social networks worldwide? I have no clue, but it is in the hundreds of millions and shows no signs slowing in the near future. Facebook just blew MySpace out of the water with 161 million unique visitors worldwide in September, compared to 117 million for MySpace in September.
There are many reasons people are on social networks. Sometimes it is just to connect with friends. Sometimes it is to make new friends. Sometimes it is to meet with known business contacts, sometimes it is to meet new business contacts and sometimes it is to try to build very large networks of people in order to stroke your ego or to build a large database to market to. Whether you are or are not on a large network you still do not like to be spammed or marketed for the most part.
Recently with the advent of websites like Ning, everyone can now create their own social network. It is daunting at best. This sounds almost nuts, but I believe that with the advent of Ning that the new wave may be the niche network. You will still have to go to the big boys if you are collecting names to build large lists, but in order to really be effedtual and get to work with like minded people you may find yourself going to or guilding a smaller specialized network.
On the smaller networks you are more assured of networking with like minded individuals that will be open to your projects, products and services. Small networks tend to have, support and make their sites work best for the type of group they support or market to.
In order to test this theory and to better support the members of a group I started on LinkedIn, I have started a new social network that is dedicated and supports investors and professionals that work in and support the Commercial Real Estate Industry.
All the News on the site is dedicated to Commercial Real Estate or Global Finance. The Forums allow members to offer their projects or services and allows Investors to use these services or search for professionals they may need. The Groups are geared toward the Investor or Professional and so you don’t have to wade through thousands of unrelated sites.
The Ning network allows you to build a social network for your group or cause and allows enought customization for you to get most of what you need to do done. This is a FREE service so for the small cost of your time you can build a network of great value.
I don’t know where this will all go. Maybe the large networks can tie together to give everyone the ability to search for what we need from everyone on the big sites. That would be exciting or maybe we will be like doctors specializing more and more. Since social networking is still in it’s infancy, it will be fun to watch.