With the rise of mainstream social networking site like Facebook and Linked In, people are increasingly wondering how to create a social networking platform. I think the best way is using the community Ning, which claims to be able to allow you to set up a community in 60 seconds or less.
The question is what are you going to do with the community once you get it started?
Its always fun just to div in, but if you are going to devote a lot of time to sustaining your community, you want to make sure you have a purpose (or at least the network will be useful for your members.
Why will people want to join your network?
You have to have a hook and it has to be clear. In other words, what is the value proposition for your users? As the number of social networks grows, you have to:
• Nichify and aim for the long tail (ie nashville public relations professionals, nashville environmentalists, middle tennesssee teachers, tennessee technology professionals)
• Networks based on geo-locality are particularly helpful because they can be leveraged very easily in the offline world)
What features are you going to add to your network
Certainly these aren’t questions you need to be answer at the moment, however they are very important questions as you think about the issues of creating a social network.
• Will the network have social features like blogs?
• How are you going to integrate RSS feeds from other sites in your social network?
• What kind of content are you going to be adding to the website?
• How are you going to manage the communty?
• How are people going to find you?
• How are you going to become a magnet for people?
Do you want to monetize your social network?
Probably the best way to monetize is with offline events which are sponsored by people who want to connect with your user base. Additionally, social networks are monetizing with ad revenue (both pay per click and cost per impression, however you have to have an incredibly large user base for this later strategy to work) Third, you can use the network to market your services or information products. Ultimately, though you MUST provide a great value proposition for users. Providing interaction with likeminded individuals + a relationship/information exchange about a genuinely interesting or valuable topic can also be a draw. If you have unique stuff you are talking about in an interesting way, you MAY be able to grow a user base.
Should I use Ning to Create a Social Network?
First you might see if there is already a Ning community in your niche by Googling “Ning + social network” You can also google your “group name + social network” to see if the need to have a social network is actually a problem in the marketplace or not. If there isn’t a community in your niche or if you want to see if you can create a unique value proposition for users, Ning makes sense for alot of reasons:
• Its growing increasingly popular
• Ning features the most robust and interesting communities on their blog. This may allow your blog to grow if it gets featured.
• Ning offers free and paid options
• You don’t have to have any design skills to start a ning community
• Speed of creating a Ning community
• Ning communities tend to show up high in the search results when the communities are large + active.
• Ning has a really great community of users and developers.
• In fact by creating a Ning community you can become a member of the Ning community members group, which allows members to share best practices of social media community development
• For the near future, Ning should be the industry standard for do-it-yourself social network construction
• What are the standards of your social networking community going to be?
• How are you going to handle user generated content?
Techcrunch also has these 34 other ways to build your own social network. In my estimation and if the wisdom of the crowd is correct in this instance, Ning is the best way to create, build, and maintain a social network.
Any strategic, creative, or business ideas about creating a social networking community?