From virtual communities that allow members to upload and share their media to social content websites that permit users to “tag" and communicate their favorite blogs, articles and websites with one another, social networking websites are popping up everywhere we turn.
A social networking website is defined as a community of individuals that share common relationships and connect to one another through various social interests and close-knit bonds. Some of today’s most popular social networking website brands are MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Technorati, Digg, Delicious, Orkut, Xanga, Yahoo 360, Webshots, and Classmates.com. These sites all have different features and functionality but they share one common goal – that is to create a large community of members that possess common social interests and bonds.
However, as the Internet continues to bring more competition, it will be increasingly difficult for future social networking websites to compete with the “big dogs" and make a name in the world of social networking. I believe that we’ve only touched the surface of social networking on the Internet and predict the next ten years to bring some innovative and exciting new ideas that will permit social networking to further shape the Internet as we see it today.
Nevertheless, in order for future social networking sites to become a success, they must adapt and change with the times. With all the competition that is already present, I believe all future social sites must focus on targeting a niche group of people rather than aiming for everyone, like most of the social websites out there today. In my opinion, there are too many MySpace, Digg and Delicious types of sites already out there (literally thousands). In order to make a future social networking site a success, it must not replicate what these sites have already done but focus on targeting specific niche groups of people instead. By targeting a niche groups, future social networking websites will become more of a resource and less of impracticality for their members.
No.1 Industries is a company who is already doing this to a “T". They have created a few social networking websites that target specific niche groups of people. Here are some of their already flourishing sites – No.1 Artist, No.1 Band and No.1 Talent .
Let’s take No.1 Artist for example. Their focus is to provide a social network for artists that allow them to interact with other artists, sell their artwork off their portfolio, gain more exposure in the art industry and just have fun. It makes more sense for an artist to signup for No.1 Artist than it does for them to signup as a member of MySpace because in the end, they will gain better targeted exposure. I spoke to a representative of No.1 Industries yesterday and they are in the stages of launching three more social networking sites within the next 6 months.
By focusing on a niche, it will be easier for social websites to launch features for the community that provide resources and exposure for their members rather than just trying to target everyone. By targeting everyone, it will just be replicating what has already done; but by targeting specific niche groups, it will be creating value and providing essential benefits for the members of the social network.
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