Where is Social Networking headed?

Is content, and conversations about content driving the next social networking wave? By now, we do know that pure social networking sites MySpace, Orkut, ibibo, Fropper, Facebook, etc, generate content [profiles, pictures, audio, video, blogs, events] and conversations [guestbook, comments, discussions, personal messaging]. These were the first wave social networking sites.

If you were to look at these sites clinically, what do they do well?

They took an existing set of tools, and artfully combined these tools into a thriving, throbbing, teeming social maze

  • Member Profiles or Member Home Pages [remember Geocities started it?]
  • Discussion boards [bulletin boards turned into network hubs]
  • Events [offline activities that reinforce socialization], blogs [bring out the writer in you], guestbook [attach it to a profile and let the social cravings loose], ability to add friends, audio/ video uploads [provides a context for conversation]
  • They made Member Profiles central to the site with all the content revolving around it
  • Members generated the contexts and conversations through their interests and activities on the site

The first wave of social networking sites taught us that we as race crave for social contact. We revel in it.

But there is a newer model that is at work in social networking.

  • One where content and the context is central
  • This content is either user generated or publisher generated [blogs, reviews, videos]
  • Conversations happen around this established content and context
  • The folks holding the conversations and responsible for the content are all linked through their public Member Profiles
  • At the Member Profile level, social networking kicks in with guestbooks, buddies, etc

Check out the following sites which do this well.

  • http://ifood.tv – recipe sharing underpinned by social networking
  • http://openbottles.com – wine reviews underpinned by social networking
  • http://mytrybe.com/ – review sites in various categories, similar to social bookmarking, but with social networking underneath
  • http://godkut.com/ – faith-based social networking

There is another variation to this, it’s what I’d call profession/hobby/ kindred-based social networking.

Have any ideas of where social networking is headed? Come, share it with us.

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