I have been incubating this one for awhile, and then a week ago I saw an article about
that spurred me to post my thoughts. One of the difficulties we've faced with Pheeder
is that people these days, both investors and consumers, tend to be skeptical of joining yet another social network. We took a look at some of the successful latecomers to the game (such as myspace, facebook, linkedin) and what we're seeing now is that social networks need to grow around some other, preexisting network. Facebook started with university networks, linkedin with professional networks, and myspace first gained traction by appealing to bands and their fanbases.
I hear a lot and see a lot of web startups incorporating social networks as an incidental add-on, or credibility enhancer, these days. "And of course it'll have a social network, to get an active user base." There's no denying that having a caring, active community that uses a site to connect and converse with one another is good for the health of a site, but social networks aren't for every site, and they most certainly aren't a requirement for a successful site. Companies that are touting poorly-thought-out social networks as killer apps for their websites, and the investors who are handing their money over, are making some serious mistakes.