I’ve just spent the past two hours chatting with my good friend Scot Duke in Texas about business models, social networks and everything in between.
Chatting with Scot is very refreshing. He’s got more years business experience than I have years on the planet. In terms of business I’m in my infancy in comparison yet he doesn’t dismiss anything I say out of hand.
Scot is open to new things and while he’s an avid blogger and in many ways an early adopter, he doesn’t suffer from the hype of the technology A-list or the burden of being a sheep to the A-list shepherds.
While we were chatting today we touched on the subject of Facebook and applications being built for social networks (a topic which is close to my heart in respect to my own network Bloomer) in light of Open Social from Google.
There are many new social networks springing up, and just as many business springing up around them, yet the value of any social network lies in it’s users and unfortunately for the networks the users flit from one "cool" network to another like leaves on the breeze.
Facebook may be worth X Billion dollars today, but what happens when the users move off to the next "cool" thing? Bye Bye $$$!
The amount of power over a networks success that is wielded by the A-list is phenomenal, whether they acknowledge it or not. For example, Robert Scoble is the kind of leaf that, if it blows into your garden, is likely to bring the whole tree with it.
Yet, the A-list is not the end all and be all of it. Nor is having the largest network.
Small can be good. Local can be better and that’s what we’re aiming for with Bloomer.
Local or regional social networks have awesome potential in this widget powered and soon to be Open Social enhanced web of ours.
Local networks allow you to build up communities of people who share one singular commonality – the desire to network with they’re REAL friends from their region.
By that I mean the folk who live down the road or who you actually have a reasonably good chance of meeting because they live in your country or area.
These networks can be successful because people can do everything they do on other social networks but without the background clutter and noise of the rest of the world.
They provide the means for individuals to network about everything without feeling like they’re only a minor subgroup with no control.
On social networks like Bloomer the users can feel like they’re in control. They can feel like they’ve got some input into the direction and evolution of the site without feeling like they’re aimlessly emailing their concerns to some faceless company who will never reply anyway.
Local networks tend to remain small enough 20 – 100,000 active members (for a region the size of Denmark) that the users can feel like it’s okay to email the founders or that they have a chance of meeting them on the street and chatting about the network.
Networks of that size are also good for the founders as they can manage and control the networks in a way that makes it feel like they’re personally involved at the ground level.
Widgets and API’s provide a means for the local networks to integrate with the larger Facebooks of the world and still maintain their own individuality.
By their very nature they have a more loyal user base that the large networks, in much the same way as local football teams do. Users may support the Manchester United’s of the world but they still go to their home town local matches as well.
There is an opportunity here. Not just for enterprising individuals to set up networks for for the big players.
The first big players who figure out that buying local networks and providing them with the resources they need to add features and stay up to date, without rebranding them or trying to integrate them into the company fold, will be on to something really special.
Which would you prefer? 1 network with 10 million users that may all move on to the next thing or 100 small networks with 100,000 users that are loyal and will keep coming back even though they’re on the next big thing as well?