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Are network effects getting weaker?


"This place is dead anyway."

I was thinking about how fast Facebook has replaced Linkedin for my valley connections. In a period of about 2 months, it seems like most of my contacts have all deserted linkedin and moved to facebook. They seemed to seed it through connections with their board, investors, etc, making a deliberate effort to invite lots of valley techies, journos, etc. and it worked.

Now the little remaining linkedin activity I have is from mostly from outside the sfbay area.

The move was easier than I thought. Facebook seems a little more open, so it's easy to browse around and connect with people you know. And, rather than my store of data in LinkedIn holding me there, starting fresh with a blank slate was a great way to clean up my contact list.

Friendster, Linkedin, Orkut, Myspace, Facebook. Orkut? Yeah it was hot for a little while too. I had a bunch of contacts in there. Not to mention even earlier stuff, like AIM buddy lists, email lists, etc.

Myspace was the king just a few months ago. Apparently it's not hip anymore:

MySpace is a tired social network that may have a ton of traffic but it has peaked. It doesn't have mojo anymore.

Like AOL in 1999, it will take years before people realize it.

MySpace isn't worth 25% of the combined company.

Facebook, yes, MySpace no.

    -- Fred Wilson

So what's going on here?

In an environment where travel is free and instantaneous, you get flash mobs.

If a place is cool, or new, or interesting, you go there to check it out.

A place might be interesting simply because there are a lot of other people there at the moment. We're instinctively drawn towards crowds. "Why are all those people gathered over there? I'll check it out too."

A swarm of bees clumped on a particular tree branch doesn't mean that the branch is some magical bee-place with a lock-in for centuries.

Sure, maybe they stay there.

Or maybe the bees move to a new hive.

Another analogy would be a new restaurant that is the hip new place to go.

Maybe they have great food, or maybe it's just the scene, but a lot of times the bloom fades and the crowd moves on to a new place.

Customers had a billing relationship with AOL. Moving to a new ISP was a hassle. They left in the end anwyay.

It's easier than ever to move from one service to another. Blog reader? No problem. Photo site? I have accounts on all of them anyway. Social networks? Yeah I'm signed up on all of them. I use the ones everyone else is using, at the moment. Just like we all do. The rest have a stub profile for me, but don't see much activity.

I started wondering if there was less lock-in than I thought on other services supposedly protected by strong network effects. Like eBay, for instance.

They've got all the buyers, and all the sellers. But what fraction of their transactions are "Buy it now" from their 700,000 merchants? Is there an 80/20 rule to those merchants? Could a core be drawn to a new service?

Ebay hasn't updated itself significantly, ever. I'd like to see a Facebook marketplace. The stronger identity around facebook profiles would be better than the anonymous "trust" ratings.

Hmmm.

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Comments (47)

jSkeels:

Quick note on information and network economics -- "network effect" applies to the *value* of the network as a function of network size, and network lock-in (which is different) has to do (primarily) with switching costs and compatibility.

LinkedIn's network value changed when the size of the network that *you* cared about shrank -- and you were there for the value, not because of lock-in -- as evidenced by your low switching costs.

eBay has strong network value (because having a lot of buyers and sellers makes for better prices and availability), and the network lock-in is primarily on the seller side, through the back-end tools. You buy at a lot of places (Amazon, NewEgg, etc.) and have little lock-in as a buyer with eBay, right?

nice post rich. i agree with most of your analysis, except that Facebook Platform & Facebook apps have made the switching cost higher, so i don't think it's *as* likely for people to move on to the New New Hotness...

also, altho i agree Facebook is going to start competing more for business mindshare with LinkedIn, i still think most people (who are aware / using both) think Facebook = personal, LinkedIn = business. that might change in another year or two, but right now i doubt most business folks are migrating their LinkedIn contacts over to Facebook...at least not for business purposes.

but i do agree with Fred: Facebook is already worth a lot more than MySpace. it might take another year or two before people realize it, but it happened about a month ago.

- dave mcclure
http://500hats.typepad.com/

Sounds like social networks are the new restaurants - hot for a while then on to something new.

Will Johnston:

It would be interesting to imagine the effect of the hive moving away from Google and to a new search engine destination. Such a simple move to make, should the right new thing pop up...

Jim Opfer:

OK, I'm ready to move from Linkedin to Facebook in a minute. Where is the simple app that I click on and it just "does it" for me

Jim

network effects needs to be well rooted. usecase zero: using a service at first to organize your own data. if the costs of leaving are higher, people tend to stick to their first platforms (flickr or del.icio.us). social networks need to become more than just silos for contacts. open up like facebook/F8 or integrate into the larger frameworks like myspace with yahoo.

Sharon Irvine:

This is something that i've been thinking about myself for a while... I tend to be very interested in sites like this, and signed up to faceparty, Livejournal, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook et al. I was never convinced by MySpace from the out, but it has been interesting to see it change and develop. Facebook seems to be going a similar way that there is a finite amount of things to "do" with it (though maybe that's becuase i've been so used to LJ, being on there for many years?)

I tend to keep facebook and LinkedIn seperate - there are others from my workplace on both but I prefer to keep my social like seperate from my professional life!

But whatever they mutate into, at least we're not on Second Life ;)

sasha:

facebook does have a marketplace

A thought-provoking post.

As all aspects of the web continue to mature, so on-line begins to mirror offline (at least from a business perspective). The difference between (say) social networking sites and eBay is that eBay represents Internet 1.0 - a well-matured market where eBay 'won' the battle of the auction sites back in the alte 90s, has a tried and tested business model, the brand, clout, and a core of regular users who are not FlashMob-ies (if that's a word?) or young users simply going after the next new thing.

Social networking sites are very much web 2.0 where the market is still immature (probably still in the Tornado phase, from a venture capital POV) and so everything is still up for grabs in terms of which site will last out.

In the 1.0 days, it was thought that the time and investment of setting up accounts, learning to use tools, etc. was the sticky part of maintaining users. However, there are trends amongst new, young Internet users of simply abandoning on-line accounts and starting afresh.

The killer social network site/tool/feature has yet to be developed (perhaps). If MySpace really is suddenly unhip (which may not have been helped by Murdoch's involvement) then that's not much of a business model in the long-run. MySpace should look long and hard at its value proposition and come up with a killer feature.

Joey:

A nice post, with many good and accurate points.

Though as far as creating a FaceBook auction website is concerned, why?

What you've basically just described is a universal desire to fix what doesn't need fixing. And as the old saying goes, why fix something that isn't broken?

Especially when attempting to do so is only to try and create a sense of fresh creativity, "newness" so to speak - The price on that isn't as high as suggested.

I opened a Facebook account recently.
As of yet I cant see what the fuss is about. Where is the music/where are the videos?
They have a long way to catch up?
Where are the adults????

I also have others...hi5.com which seems to be more used in the Asia-Pacific. TagWorld.com which is hyped up as being better than myspace - but I found it very hard to use/maintain, and now use it very little.

Facebook may like tagworld have a small period of activity before slowing and dying off.

For me, myspace is providing the best tool at the moment, and they are adding/improving functionality.

I also have a www.yourspace360.com
which maybe in 10 years time will have some users!

Just my opinion.

Rich.

Lisa:

Bebo is up and comming. Everyone uses that now :)

Paul C:

I think one key factor may have been missed here...

It's not necessarily about what is 'hip' and 'cool' but perhaps the functionality, easy of use, and simply lack of spam-driving con-merchants on sites like Facebook that have attracted people.

Myspace is a place where you put up a profile on a poorly designed web page and have people try to advertise to you several times a day by putting up a picture of a half-naked model and claiming you should 'join this site to chat to me' or will just out-and-out try and scam you.

I was thinking about how fast Facebook has replaced Linkedin for my valley connections.

For social network sites, where the Valley goes, the rest will follow, probably, eventually. I think jSkeels is correct, though, in stating that although your network has migrated to Facebook, that might not be the case for everyone.

For example, my most important online networking tools are LiveJournal, Flickr, and Twitter. That's where the people I want to stay in touch with ended up. I know, LJ is full of fanfic and angst, but for some reason my little network of friends and family all ended up there, and since they haven't chased us away yet, there we stay.

I have profiles on all the other sites but I mainly use them to find people I've lost touch with. I use them to renew, rather than maintain, relationships.

Paul:

Jskeels is 100% correct, but there are other issues too.

The valley may be driven by fads, but most business people aren't. They don't have the time to keep switching, and moreover, they value different things than I suspect you do.

In the business community, Facebook is perceived as a college thing. LinkedIn is closed only in that it protects my privacy better. Trust me, the higher you go in an organization, and the more you are the target of multitudes of salespeople, the more you value your privacy. LinkedIn's mediated contacts between people unknown to each other is how business is done, not so much by "cold calling". LinkedIn is open enough that I get the business value I want, but not so open that senior executives won't join -- that is a tremendous "lock in" advantage.

Also, although the switching cost is low for techies, it is not so with business people who are not as inclined to play with every toy that comes along. I would have to see more than half of my network abandon LinkedIn, and if anything, more of the people that I care about are choosing it, and none are with Facebook. To me, the switching cost is the value of my business network, and I'm simply not going to maintain two of these things -- that makes no sense.

There will have to be something tremendously disruptive from Facebook to make me switch, or LinkedIn will have to fall on their sword. Short of that happening, the battle is won, and you will be switching back in the future for practical reasons, because it doesn't make sense for the valley to be isolated from the rest of the business world.

Your valley problem is my LinkedIn problem in reverse, but I really believe the valley will come back, because the business people they want to talk to won't switch so easily.

Zohaib Amin:

Recently, Facebook has been bombarded with applications useless to many people. It also has a Marketplace now. Clearly, the creators of Facebook are aware of the fact that new things are attractive and people use them only for a short while until they move on to a new creation. Keeping that actuality in mind, facebook is coming up with various new things, intended to keep the existing users loyal as well as attract new users. This is how the system works. Apple computer most certainly has the next 3 generations of the iPod in mind, but bringing them at once won't do any good to their customer loyalty. Customers will love the iPod for a short while and when Apple doesnt have anything to offer, customers will move to other companies.

So likewise, Facebook is coming up with a ridiculously vast number of new applications so users dont get bored. Being a regular Facebook user my self, i find a few of the applications fun, (useful wont be the appropriate word here), but many are just frustrating. The number of users Facebook has, i think they have applications tailored for majority of the customer segments. I used to use Orkut as well but now its been ages since i last checked my scraps over there. Will the same thing happen with Facebook as well??... i think not. like Apple, the creators of Facebook know how to play the game.

Luke Davies:

I'm suprised no one has yet mentioned the sudden rise and rise of Bebo.

I made and account on there when it first started up and never really used it as it seemed pretty rubbish. However over the last month my inbox has been flooded by friend requests from people i went to school with, people I know through football and my current crop of muckers. Out of nowhere its gone from obscurity to the new "cool" of social networking.

Oliver:

I use both, but I think Facebook is far better.

Interesting post. I have signed up to both MySpace and Facebook but I find Facebook much better.

Within days of signing up to MySpace I was sent a spam friend request from a semi-naked girl I didn't know. I was checking my profile at work and this put me off enough to completely cancel my account with MySpace straight away. About a year later someone I knew persuaded me to rejoin. However, since then only a couple of friends have joined. Most of my friend requests are spam from either more semi-naked people or bands I don't know and don't want to know. The layout and colours of the site are also awful.

Facebook on the other hand has developed quite well. I joined just because someone from a sports club I'm a member of wanted to organise things through Facebook. It looked like a good site and I invited my other friends to use it. I've had a great response and managed to get back in contact with several people haven't seen for a while, often through a mutual friend. I like the layout of the site but I think it will soon get very cluttered if people use too many of the applications. As long as they are able to limit the applications to useful ones and can avoid spam I think they may be on to a winner.

Zohaib Amin:

In terms of Bebo popularity this is just related who is in your group of friends. I joined Bebo a couple of years ago as I was invited then, but have never since had an invite. It only takes a few friends to get into a social network site and their friends, who are also probably your friends get in on the act.

The long term success of these sites is that it has to be worth going back to the site - i.e. fun/useful and no spam. I've signed up to LinkedIn, Hi5 and others - usually because I was invited by a single contact but they are all boring to use. Facebook has kept my attention only because so many of my friends are on it and have active profiles. If that changes I may just have to go back to meeting them in the flesh!

Emily:

I had a Myspace account. It seemed too anonymous to me. I abandoned it years ago and stuck to email after that. But then I had a series of invites for facebook. Eventually I joined. Most people do actually have a picture of themselves up and I haven't received spam in the 5 months that I've been on there. I haven't had friend requests from complete strangers. It's been easy to keep the smallish group of people I actually like to talk to. I like that I don't need to "design" a page. I don't have any interest in having my own webpage. This works well for me. I can't see facebook falling flat so easily.

DF:

It's not fair to say Facebook is growing faster than MySpace, because MySpace was always open to everyone and Facebook was closed and now is open to people outside colleges. Well of course it grows faster; it has the most room to grow.

As for Facebook lasting very long, let's all think back to the college years when many of us used WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. No one thought that would end, either,

Lots of interesting points made here in the comments to a thoughtful piece.

There seems to be something driving the crowds.

Besides the obvious "pull" affect of where your network goes, the "attraction-factor" that launches the exodus centers around features and ease of use.

On the "push" side of the equation, you have relevancy, spam, and stale innovation / features - makes it easier to leave.

When you add up both sides of the equation, yes, you get flash-mobs.

Further, social networks are themselves, the nearly ideal viral marketing platforms (per Seth Godins, "Unleashing the IdeaVirus") makes them particularly suseptable to the flash-mob concept as they approach strong sneezing recruiters and critical mass at the same time.

I do find it interesteing that most of you never really "abandon" your "old" social network... You just express frustration in mainaining too many of them at once.

My 2 cents.

Allan Sabo
Alti Success Strategies
::: Creating Value Through Social Media & Web 2.0 Techniques :::
www.AltiConsulting.com
ilmtdk7007

In terms of Bebo popularity this is just related who is in your group of friends.

Read "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell for a succinct account of how social networking (in general) works, how your own network distorts your view of what's 'cool', and how things become cool through the actions of three different types of networkers.

Fascinating, and massively relevant to what's happening on these sites (and to this discussion!).

there is a war on; this facebook/linkedin/myspace shuffle is a neat counterpoint to what our troops are going through in iraq. :(

if you started a social network to stop this damned war, and it worked, maybe then you'd be creating value. sadly these "connections" on extant social networks are just the same damn elitism that educated professionals have always used to wall themselves off from the unwashed masses.

even the way the "digerati" (gag) distance themselves from myspace is telling.

David Fletcher:

BEBO all the way. I have friends and family aged from 17 to 57 on it. Much easier and better to use than MySpace!

I think that what's hot or not can be misleading or misunderstood as a vague announcement. It may not be where the hippest users flock or the site that gets the most cool press, but at over 38 million users, I'd say it's far from being a ghost town. Fads stop being fads as soon as it has permiated the general public. So what makes it hot? Press? Hipsters? Users base? Features? Buyouts?

I think that social networking is in the beginning phase of a shakedown in which each will capture it's audience, similar to the browser wars of the 80s. Alot of users and developers jumped back and forth with each release until they settled down with their favorite with a content sigh.
For those on the cutting edge that are bouncing over to Virb, there are thousands of 30-60 somethings every day discovering that they can put up pictures of their kids and their modl train sets on MySpace, thousands more every day flocking to Facebook because their business decided they needed to "get into" web 2.0.

Blogs are doing the same. While there are a few of us who maintain presences on Blogspot, WordPress, TypePad, etc., most bloggers find one their like and stick to it. This can be based on user interface, widgets, target audience, friend recommendations, visibility, etc. Like most media, site usage is as fractured as consumer markets. Goggle is in Beta-mode for Blog Search that spiders all blogs presumably.

Social networks are here to say, duh. I think they will become more narrowly defined environments for sure. The public has been given the power of choice and they are anxious to swing their weight around.

Alex:

Don't have a MySpace account, but I think the difference for me is that I pretty much approve any connection for my LinkedIn account - connectivity doesn't hurt in the long run when you're job-hunting or whatever.

For Facebook I only accept friend requests to the people I've met with, and deal daily with in real life - I don't want my feed to be polluted by someone going to a party in New York City, or yet another family album from someone I briefly met at a conference.

For some reason, EVERYONE I know, even the non IT literate, are on Facebook. Even my 54 yr old dad!

It's got to be down to it's ease of use and viral marketing ability that has made Facebook a phenomenon. (Plus the poke action!)

The focus of Social Networking has changed (and will change again). But MySpace has the music. Most of the bands I know have abandoned their own website urls.

You may want to go to a quiet cafe with your friends, but there are times you want to be in a crowded venue with trendy musicians - that is MySpace's strength.

The second wave of building social networking should be done reversely, build it from grassroot and form the network gradually and evolutionally, just like how the internet was born and matured, instead of the current centralized and drop-in boom style. Every social networking activitist should have his/her own social networking site setup in his/her own internet-connected PC or desktop, and mutually connected at will to form micro-network and eventually a couple of big-boom hot central networks. FreeWish, a free software produced at www.feasystem.com, is just such a tool wanted to accomplish that. To do the same thing again, we need a different kind of thinking, doing it reversely is the simple straight forward answer.

The real action in Social Networks is only just beginning - and that's in the business world.

Yes, LinkedIn is a sort of Social Network, but it's sites like Ecademy that are unleashing the real power of online networking in the business world. Marketers think it's about how best to advertise in the platforms, but it doesn't work like that.

Community members aren't there to be bombarded with advertisements - except in specially roped-off areas. And heaven help anyone from a big Brand who 'pretends' to be a happy customer of a particular company - they soon get spotted and seen off.

Until companies start to integrate Social Networking techniques into their service proposition (a subtle difference from advertising in Social networks) - the easier they will find it to really engage with consumers online. And before they know it, they will be creating Community around their brand.

And the more value they add to that community, the more trust they will build and the more loyal their customers will become.

And the more loyal they become, the more friends and business associates they will tell. And so the wheel turns.

Social Networks are not just a big advertising platform. They are a tool for adding value. The more you give, the more you'll get back.

Come and see me on Ecademy at http://www.ecademy.com?xref=53930

Philip Calvert
Keynote Speaker on The Business of Social Networking

Anonymous:

interesting analysis, but facebook is a little 'too' open

Srini: Iraq war? social network war? even mentioning these two in the same sentence is absurd madness - and in my view naive. Moving on:

MySpace may die because its lost core focus on why it was a success (if you exclude the 50 million email list they started out with), which is namely music. If they re-focus on being the best music social network (not to mention overhaul the entire service technically and its terrible UI) then it may yet survive. More people (Jun 07 writing) are still joining MySpace than Facebook, although FB's growth rate (compared to its own userbase) is higher. Not surprising when MySpace has 100m+ users.

Facebook clearly has some strategy, the UI is better, the user experience is better and in general its more upto date and better thought through. MySpace is a mess; privacy is poor, technically its poor and the userbase has little loyalty.

LinkedIn will in my view survive provided it adapts. If it doesn�t take note of why SOME business people like Facebook, it may fade; but the brand IS an issue. I dont actually want my business profile tied up with my personal profile. They serve different purposes and are for a different audience. The geeks may switch -along with the rest of SV- but the rest of the world will use a business network for business and social for social. Look at the issues appearing with employers looking up users on FB to discover their past ... that alone prevents FB becoming LinkedIn; and if it did, then FB might lose THEIR core users.

If someone comes up with a killer band/music site which is "enough" better than MySpace, AND free, it could well result in a mass-exodus. Social Software sites HAVE to keep evolving and adapting to trends, their users evolution and the competition. The leadership has gone from MySpace; it could well become a lame duck a la AOL and faster than people might think. I dont know a single person who has one good thing to say about MySpace - and no they are not all on Facebook ... but some are - and most of those have moved from MySpace.

K:

Myspace started through music. Not through vain people wanted to display their egos for all to see. If these 'look-at-me' type of people (the ones most fickle for fashion) move to another site, who cares? The Myspace core of bands and musicians dedicated to their art will carry on.

"Myspace was the king just a few months ago. Apparently it's not hip anymore"

agreed. but it only has itself to blame.

Murdoch can make a nice hefty profit if he sells it to Yahoo now, if the rumours are to be believed.

It's all quite simple: There are no good social networks, which is why it's so easy for one to replace another. (To be fair, it's not easy, but at least it's doable.)

The problem (for the social networks) is that none of them, Facebook included, have enough stickiness.

Bottom line: None of the online social networks do for social networking what Google does for search. Life isn't this simple and I've given a simple explanation, but read between the lines and you'll get my meaning.

Just want to make another thinking regarding royalty of a user to a social networking site: if the value of a social networking site to a user is fading or lost, then the exodus of users are inevitable and that leads to the remain of the massive ghost accounts which are not active since the creation. But a user will always be loyal to himself or herself no matter what, so building social networking sites from ground up by each his or her individual site as a starting point, wired and connected each of them together natually and evolutionally is the solid way to accomplish that. The essential requirement is a simple and easy tool to build it so massive audience can join such a social activities.

Will:

I concur with the fact that Myspace is getting old.. but only for specific age groups for about 12-17 year olds I'd say Myspace is the place to be. Then for 18-25ish Facebook seems to be the website that draws the majority of my friends. There is also a geographical component. There was a time when all my friends used Bebo if they were located in england and icq if they were from germany (the same thing was prevalent about instant messaging programs too varying from AIM to MSN to Yahoo)but there are tons of connecting sits besides orkut which I think is mainly prevalent in Brazil and Portugal (go figure...) theres also Faceparty, FaceBox, WAYN(where are you now), hi5, ringo, and probably a couple dozen more that I haven't heard of before.

Just so you know, there IS a facebook selling section, and as you say it is much more trust worthy.

Through my main group which is my University, they are the only sales I see, often things for free, like if you can take this bed or pool table come pick it up.

Many funny ones, and also a lot of useful ones, like flats for rent, or people selling coach/train tickets for somewhere if they bought it but now dont need it.

Spud:

MySpace has become total trash. Facebook is a lot cleaner and rather classy in comparision.

M:

Bah, they're all the same. All offer the same social media mix which will get stale one way or another. Evolve or die.

Here's my view from the UK.

Bebo - up and coming and capturing an important 16-25 audience which has grown up with it and therefore will be unlikely to change too quickly. Their platform continues to improve with well thought out and simple to use features.

Myspace - Still the media darling. If you quote your myspace film or music site, you will instantly get people remembering it. More so than a dot com. It would be more powerful staying with Murdoch as the TV and Newspaper gives it an edge and an expectation of combining those media. Give it to Yahoo and it loses that.

Facebook - Easier to setup than Myspace and more adult/commercial looking than Bebo. You can see lots of professionals using this tool to network with potential employers. It seems to track every breath you take and every connection you make (sounds like a Sting song), so be careful who you make friends with.


Ning - Incredible platform for those wishing to take their social networking up a level and start to create their own. Very easy to use and integrates nicely with Facebook.

And my own. UK Theatre and Film Network - for theatre and film goers and practitioners in the UK. I've been running it since 2001 before all the fuss of "social networking" in recent years. It's making a difference, more people are getting offline and watching great theatre and film. Result !


Douglas
editor
uk theatre & film network
www.uktheatre.net

Alec Johnson:

Why does everyone need all these pages to tell everyone about themselves? kids seem to need to make friends nowadays with people they might never see. It's all pointless to me.

To me, the current Internet buddies of today are the same as internet brides of 1990 and do you remember the stigma attached to that?

That is exactly the migration i'm seeing here. Myspace users moving to facebook....the new "in" thing.

I left myspace because it had security problems, spam problems, and also the way people pic up flash, animated gifs and multiple flash videos aswell as music running at the same time and just splash it across their whole page.

it just became like a messy fragmented puzzle.

unfortunately all these flash slideshows and animations are coming to facebook! i see the migration from facebook to something else starting already!!

Lameplanet:

I wonder to what extent this hive mentality is a side-effect of the fact that places like myspace and facebook (because of course, its fate will eventually be the same) are intrinsically dull sites.

The way I see it, the "personal profit margin" in terms of how much interest value is gained from these sites is very low when compared to the amount of effort you have to put in. The initial buzz of creating your profile, adding pictures, finding friends and contacts - that sustains you only for so long. In daily use, aside from the utility of being able to get in touch with people - which there are a billion other ways of doing - an average joe's facebook/myspace site is dull and featureless. It doesn't change much, and when it does, it's in ways that are supremely underwhelming. So it's natural that people wind up seeking out that initial buzz again, somewhere new and, naturally, cooler.

I compare this to somewhere like Livejournal, where admittedly the raison d'etre is totally different: it's primarily a blog site, but one which has made it very easy for people to link up and find new people using many social networking features. I've been there for a few years now and sure, I look into new sites, but I've never found anything that will draw me away (yet), because in terms of interest, it keeps delivering, and the more you put in the more you get out.

If was working for facebook or one of these places I would be seriously wondering what I can do to keep people's interest up. Or, maybe, I'd have to accept that the draw of these sites is transient, that it always going to be boom-and-bust, and there's nothing you can do about it.

At my previous company, we wrestled with doing a Social networking app. One thing we realised very quickly, is that the network grows like a classic sigmoid curve (Biology anyone?) and eventually growth flattens.

A more correct analogy (as compared to restaurants) would be a nightclub. When new, all the cool and hip people hang out there. When the NOT SO cool and hip people turn up there. People move on to the next new thing.

The noise and actions that lead to convergence is heating up fast. Just consider the last thirty days of announcements: Google, Facebook, Linkedin, MSN, IBM and others ( I can hardly keep up anymore). Soon it won�t matter which existing network �you� think is better rather value will be created by how you manage �your network�. As more and more closed systems open, it begins to interact more directly with other existing systems, and therefore acquires all the value of those systems.

Soon we will all be overwhelmed with an abundance of value proposition in which you�ll need to decide how and what to use in �your� network to meet your personal and professional aims. You will soon become your own aggregator of networks, of relationships, of information, of knowledge and last but not least�of VALUE.

Technology provides the means, relationships provide the value.

The Relationship Economy is now, not when, being built by individuals who learn how to maximize the value of relationships by optimizing technology. We�ll need to forget what we�ve been using and think �how� to adapt to the convergence of means which enables us to maximize value. We need to ReThink our methods and ReShape the means so we can individually and collectively capture the most value.

Here are seven things to consider and help you start thinking and planning for �your� network:.

1) Which networks do you want fed to your network? Which has your interest, value, the best collection of individuals and the content which match who you are? etc. etc.

2) Which networks represent your interest geographically, by industry and by topic? Which blogs represent the same categories of interest? etc. etc.

3) What will be the rules of your network? Standards for connections? RSS feeds in and out? etc. etc.

4) What image and brand do you want your network to project? Think hard and long on this one. Lots to consider as you build your value proposition to the global market.

5) What mediums do you want in your network? Video, audio, pictures, etc. What Network Channels will be available that interest you most both personally and professionally?

6) What do you specifically want to accomplish with your network? Start with this end in mind and build towards it. Again, lots to think about.

7) Your network is an economic factory. How do you produce quality and quantity effectively?

The list can go on and on but this is a start for you to begin to Rethink your vision, mission strategy and tools for your network. Soon we�ll have a personal planning guide, materials, technology and access to experts who can help you plan your �Link to Your World�.

Are you ready? What is your plan? How will you adapt? How will you �Link to Your World?�

When is Now: Shift Happens, What say you?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 21, 2007 9:58 AM.

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