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The Making of a Niche Social Network: The Beginning

November 28, 2007

As the first post of this journal, we can start by asking “why”? Why build a new social network when there are hundreds, if not thousands of social networking (S/N) sites floating around the Internet? Why not stop now while we’re ahead? What will this new site have to offer that the other big sites don’t offer? Fair questions.

Let’s start by saying, the new social networking in the works, we’ll call it SocialX, isn’t out to overthrow Myspace, Facebook, or the gamut of successful social networks out there. We’ll probably be small and stay small, but it’s by design. Now, you’re probably laughing and saying, “Design? No, not design, but reality.” Well, you’re right, we probably won’t be that big even if we intended to be big. But when I say by design, I mean, SocialX is meant to target a specific audience. It’s a niche social network.

But it’s because sites such as Myspace and Facebook can’t really cater to niches that a targeted social network can work. If we were trying to make a general purpose S/N site, that’s a tough hill to climb since the established sites do what they do quite well. And there are many of them. Some people don’t like Myspace so there’s Facebook. Some don’t like Facebook so there’s Friendster…and Orkut…and Bebo…and LinkedIn…and on and on. They’re all general purpose sites and it’s likely that anyone interested in S/N’ing will find one that fits them among the top sites.

But niche sites are not so common. Give me some examples of what’s considered niche, you might say. Sure. What about a social network for sports lovers? Or a social network for car aficianados? Or a social network for movie buffs? Plenty of niches out there. The big sites can’t really cater to people with special interests the way a niche site can, nor should the big sites even try. That’s by design. Ah, that word again. So what do I mean?

When you create a profile on Myspace, you list a few things about yourself by answering some questions. The profile form is pretty generic. Your interests, a favorite saying, a physical description, etc. Boring. Unless I know you, I don’t care about that stuff. But what if you’re a movie buff and you found a social network for people like you, let’s call it SocialM. On the join page, it asks for a few boring details about yourself but it also asks things like, top 5 favorite movies, favorite movie line, best movie people haven’t seen, favorite movie genre, etc. Now when you browse your profile and other people’s profiles, you can see their top 5 movies and favorite movie quotes. Not only that, but if the S/N site is good, it can aggregate everyone’s results and have an overall top 5 movies for the site. In addition, if the site is really good, it can match you with others who share a similar tastes in movies–“Sarah shares the same top 5 as you. Would you like to meet Sarah?” Yes.

Now isn’t that something? When you browse other people’s profiles, they actually have things to say that might interest you. So you’re not just browsing to see all the barely dressed girls and drunk pictures on their profile. You can actually meet people who like what you like. And that’s because you’re on a well done niche site that sets all it’s features to cater to that niche.

So that’s what SocialX intends to do. The niche it’s targeting isn’t movies but the ideas are similar. Build a site where users of our niche can fill in information focused on the niche topic. Then connect with others who share similar interests. After all, isn’t that what social networking is about anyway?

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3 comments

  1. http://www.SpecialOpsPaintball.com did this with their Brigade. 100,000 paintball players and growing. I’m interested in learning more. What IS your niche?


  2. Hi Dawn, I deliberately left out the specific focus of our social network until things are further along. Don’t want to show our hand too early. We do have ideas similar to ones discussed in the article above.


  3. Niche social networks have experienced huge growth this year and this
    field will continue to grow in 2008. Companies and brands will build
    their own social networks to engage and market to interested parties.

    We have recently launched a search engine that helps users find niche
    interest social networks and helps social network owners promote them.

    Users search for sites related to whatever their interest is and
    webmasters submit their sites tagged with related keywords.

    The idea is that due to the increasing popularity and proliferation
    of niche subject social networking sites thanks to Ning et al, users
    have a way of finding like-minded communities and these social
    networks receive targeted traffic that helps build user base and
    monetize.

    Please take a look! We are still building the database. Feel free to
    register and submit your niche social network or social media site for
    free.

    http://findasocialnetwork.com



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