Social networking is like a house.

[image courtesy of MARIE MAMZELLE / Flickr]

The recent ComScore study that revealed the demographic changes that social networking juggernaut MySpace is undergoing a rapid and universe-altering change. From the study:
“As social networking sites have become mainstream, the demographic composition of MySpace.com has changed considerably. Last year half of the site’s visitors were at least 25 years old, while today more than two-thirds of MySpace visitors are age 25 or older.”

Even measurement of social networking sites can be troublesome. Podcasting hosting site Odeo‘s CEO Evan Williams posted an interesting bit on his blog titled “Pageviews are Obsolete.”

Last month, the Annenberg Online Jouinalism Review posted an article about the UK newspaper The Guardian designing communities around the their old media. They needed to build a system to facilitate the discussions about their content that was taking place elsewhere. Comment is Free, the title of the site, has been viewed as a bit of a halfway solution, with editors vetting each item before they go live, rather than letting the community have their say. They have had some troubles in that regard, but also some successes.

This social networking thing is tough. But, there are a few that are doing it right [and others that are not]. Here is a portion of one social media scorecard according to Mike Arrington in an article on ZDNet:

Winners [obvious, as they are the ones most prominent]:

  • Flickr
  • MySpace
  • Blogger

What were they thinking:

  • Gather.com
  • Jigsaw
  • Squidoo

One of my colleages attended the PBS Development Conference. An analogy for building a solid social networking platform was laid out in one of the sessions, in a very simple manner. It is like a house:

  • Foundation – rock-solid with footings or on quicksand?
  • Entrance – is the welcome mat inviting?
  • Kitchen – are the chefs competent?
  • Dining Room – how do you ‘serve’ your model?
  • Electrical Panel – hidden from view, but neccesary.
  • Energy – how is it powered?
  • Attic – unused / under valued?
  • Architecture – is it designed with natural flow in mind?

Go forth with hammers and levels and measuring tape, for there are more houses to be built.

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