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April 15, 2010

Why some social networks may fail.


If you own a forum or a social networking site, is it prudent to give it a free rein, rather than trying to “run” it?

I co-founded the Property Tribes forum in April 2009 and we have just celebrated out 1,000th member joining.  It is an extremely active community, up-dating hourly. 

In my case, I have used the model "it's not mine, it belongs to the community”.    All I have to done is give them what they want, not what I wanted them to have. 

My reason for asking is I see forum and network owners around me that seem to be interfering, controlling, or policing all the time. 

Is this an ego thing?


You don't see the owners of twitter interfering , nor do you see the owners of LinkedIn  getting involved.  Facebook have had their moments but again that was due to interfering.

So, on one hand, starting a social network or forum needs your attention at the beginning to “drive” it.  But on the other it would appear prudent to leave it alone when it gains traction and just focus on making your users have a good interaction with what you have built, and each other.

I have learned by watching and partaking that any site which is owned by me cannot be run by me.  In fact, I feel uncomfortable with even using the word “owned” because, without the community, I own nothing, and I cannot own them.

However, the one thing I can do is lead by example and support my community members in being successful at what they do.  I can also make them feel valued for their contributions, because, without their contributions, I have nothing.

Trying to control a social network is a very dated view IMHO (closed, controlling and selective).   Being an ego on a network is of equal silliness, not only does it paint the owner as an idiot, it destroys any form of "loyalty" the forum had in the first place.

I was looking at Quantcast the other day and put in the search term for a "popular" social network - in fact I put in a few - and the results were quite clear. Some of them are in decline and I would argue that it's because the owners interfere and control the site users!Anyone can own or start a network/forum.  There are a myriad of free sites to choose from. 

However, it’s another matter to facilitate a vibrant community that generates itself.  Ego should definitely be left out of the mix.

What do you think?



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Interesting post Nick.

I know you're fairly active on Ecademy -- would you not say that is quite tightly controlled?

And I don't share your view about LinkedIn being what the people want. I think most users are crying out for more tools to broker introductions to potential customers, but they never come. You can see people's frustration in the way the groups end up getting spammed by braodcast marketing messages.

Ian Hendry

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