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The Advent of Controlled Sharing and What It Might Mean to Your Launch Plan

May 27, 2011

I continue to struggle with how best to both enjoy and leverage social networks like Linked In and Facebook.  While I have been careful in requesting and accepting ‘friends’, my connections on both platforms have become large and unwieldy.  The true test:  how many old acquaintances with whom you have not spoken in 10 or more years are now in your network(s).  Have you spoken to them since they became a part of your network?  Do you really care about what they post?  You think they care about what you post?  Doubt it.   The problem and opportunity with this is well expressed here.  As social networking continues its rapid progression across the adoption curve, I continue to believe there will be ripe opportunities for niche-social networking plays in areas where people possess deep, fiery  passions for a given topic and prefer to associate/share with those who are like-minded.  Among them:

  • amateur sports
  • professional sports
  • politics
  • major life events like weddings, divorce, births, deaths, layoffs… you get the idea
The analogy I think fits best is this:  Say you were at a large party in a grand ballroom with hundreds or even thousands of guests most of whom you are vaguely familiar.  Would you grab the mic and share whatever’s on your mind?  On the other hand, if you bump into a close friend with whom you share a deep passion, would what you have to share change?  What if the ballroom was filled with such people?
The more sites like Facebook and Linked In penetrate the general public, the more there will be the desire to have all the functionality they offer, but applied to specialized groups with which you wish to share specialized information.  Both Facebook and Linked In are trying hard to provide this ‘build-your-own-niche-group’ functionality.  But as of yet, it aint workin’.
The last five years has been the rise of the Social Network as a utility platform.  Now that it’s created, the next five years will be about building on that foundation. New social apps will focus on sharing with select groups of people  In that sense, The Era of The Social Network has ended, and we are now entering The Era of the Social Circle.
If you are working on winning new markets, for now, keep leverage Facebook (B2C) and Linked In (B2B) for all it’s worth.  Their mass appeal combined with social context-recommendations are a powerful new lever.   But be watching and thinking about whether there are niche networks that, while smaller, might pack a more powerful wallop where the fires of passion will fan a flame that’s hotter and help you locate true evangelists that can take your message across the masses even faster than Facebook or Linked In alone.
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