I’ve been trying to think about what I would talk about in my next post and I decided to share my experience with trying to start an online social network.
In the Fall of 2008 I started a community on the Ning network called Canadian HigherEd Online Marketing and Recruiting. I went on a manual campaign to invite marketing, recruiting and web professionals from Canadian post-secondary institutions. My manual labours resulted in 51 members joining over the past few months. There are a few that trickle in, but it seem that the flooding have members haven’t materialized as I had hoped.
Unfortunately, this initiative hasn’t taken off yet. I think the idea is great and I believe the interest is there. Here are some of my observations as to why this social network I set up hasn’t taken off yet:
Social networks need to be viral. They need to be spread and shared like the common cold. One person’s efforts to raise awareness about a social network will never yield significant results.
A social network is just that, social. A social network becomes useful as members contribute content. Contributions made by only one or a small amount of members are not enough to move a social network to critical mass.
Social networks take time. Although I’ve thought about giving up on the Ning community I created for higher education online recruiting and marketing, I realize establishing a well connected and useful community takes time. It will be interesting to see where the community will be a year from now.
Social networks take commitment. Commitment is required by both the members and owners of social networks. Sometimes its a catch 22. People are willing to make a commitment unless there is a potential of return and there won’t be a potential of return until a commitment is made.
I’m hopeful that this Ning community will take off and I’m committed to seeing it through.