Tiffany B. Brown

Recommended: Social Networks Aren’t Products

From Vitamin: It’s the cold hard truth, and a reminder of how difficult it is to launch such a site: Social Networks Aren’t Products.

Nobody gives a damn how good the cupcakes are; if scarcely anybody shows up, your party is a failure. Equally, nobody goes to MySpace or Match for the cupcakes — or, to be more precise, the quality of the user experience. People flock there because that’s where everyone else is.

That point brings to mind the Twitter versus Pownce debate. I have parallel networks on both (i.e.: same friends, different sites) and most of them are pretty hard-core Twitter-ites. In fact, Twitter is king even among those who prefer the features and interface of Pownce. Why? Because Twitter is where everyone is conversing (though some would argue that Pownce’s lack of an API is the reason why it’s community isn’t as active).

In other words: community and activity is what counts. Before your launch your social networking site, make sure you have a plan for driving community — not just attracting users. Flickr’s founders, for example, greeted every new user on signup. MySpace tapped into a vibrant, established off-line community.

However you do it, remember that your site’s value comes from the people involved. It’s not features. It’s not ease-of-use. It’s the people.

Related: “Facebook Follies� and what might an open social network format look like?

9 Responses to “Recommended: Social Networks Aren’t Products”

  1. Lainie says:

    Hi Tiffany. I don’t get the twitter v. pownce debate. For me, pownce is about the file sharing, which is something twitter doesn’t even offer. They are two totally different products that I use for two totally different purposes. It’d be nice if I only had to use one…but in order for that to come to be, one of them would have to add a significant number of features.

    At some point, a whole new product will emerge that combines the best of both, and I will be won over. Until then, I will share files on Pownce and share silly 140 character or less anecdotes on Twitter.

  2. Lainie says:

    Hi Tiffany. I don’t get the twitter v. pownce debate. For me, pownce is about the file sharing, which is something twitter doesn’t even offer. They are two totally different products that I use for two totally different purposes. It’d be nice if I only had to use one…but in order for that to come to be, one of them would have to add a significant number of features.

    At some point, a whole new product will emerge that combines the best of both, and I will be won over. Until then, I will share files on Pownce and share silly 140 character or less anecdotes on Twitter.

  3. tiffany says:

    I get the debate. At their most basic levels Pownce and Twitter are both “microblogging” tools. If you don’t share files, Pownce loses its advantage — unless your friend network is invested in it. My friend network tilts more towards Twitter, therefore it has more value for me.

  4. tiffany says:

    I get the debate. At their most basic levels Pownce and Twitter are both “microblogging” tools. If you don’t share files, Pownce loses its advantage — unless your friend network is invested in it. My friend network tilts more towards Twitter, therefore it has more value for me.

  5. tiffany says:

    I’ll also say that Twitter’s API gives you more ways to interact with it: mobile, IM, Facebook, Firefox extension, etc. You can fold it in to stuff you’re already doing. I’m guessing that makes a tremendous difference in adoption.

  6. tiffany says:

    I’ll also say that Twitter’s API gives you more ways to interact with it: mobile, IM, Facebook, Firefox extension, etc. You can fold it in to stuff you’re already doing. I’m guessing that makes a tremendous difference in adoption.

  7. Jason says:

    lack of an API is pownce’s achilles heel. I even have it’s air application open all day and I still never use it. if I could post to pownce on a whim like I do with twitter, it might have the appeal.

  8. Jason says:

    lack of an API is pownce’s achilles heel. I even have it’s air application open all day and I still never use it. if I could post to pownce on a whim like I do with twitter, it might have the appeal.

  9. [...] Recommended: Social Networks Aren’t Products – tiffany b. brown “Before you launch your social networking site, make sure you have a plan for driving community — not just attracting users.” (tags: community socialnetworking myspace twitter facebook web2.0) [...]