Read a very interesting argument yesterday here on how an online community is different from a group on a social network, or is it?
As i commented there, while Orkut definitely works as a way to rekindle those school crushes/ get in touch with those long lost friends, Facebook goes beyond that, thanks to its applications. I’d written about it earlier. The idea is that Fb allows you to connect on more planes with an existing contact (hey, you’re a Heroes fan too) or know people who share a common interest, like the group ‘I love trashy Hindi movies’. Facebook allows a lot more scope for activities on the group as opposed to Orkut’s polls an forums. Its way more social.
But that was not the debate I had in mind. I look at Fb and Orkut as a sort of mall in the virtual space. As in a mall, there are various sets of activities that one can done on these SN sites. As a businessman, would i rather open an outlet in the mall or would I take retail space outside? That’s a question I’d like to ask specialised websites. eg. say HolidayIQ or Burrp.
If i open the shop in a mall, I might be have some constraints imposed on me by the mall -space, opening/closing times etc, but which may not be issues in my own retail space. But think of the cost that I’d incur in getting people to come to my stand alone shop, as opposed to people coming into the mall and visiting my shop with maybe a few catchy posters/offers to boost their chances of walking in. In a virtual world, I think the cost of building my own site + marketing it would be much more than making a ‘shop’ inside say, Facebook. In Fb, like the mall, I can utilise the existing population to build a brand. This is specially true for the typical time-strapped net audience. A simple thing like a newsfeed (Manu has joined/added the group/app …..) would itself attract some ‘pull’, because there all kinds of people in an SN site – book lovers, backpackers, music fanatics, food lovers….. And if i keep doing it right, then maybe it would warrant a spin off later- an own site. The case for existing specialised sites to have an app/page on SN sites is a kind of no brainer, I’d guess.
So, what do you think is a better way – to build a specialised site in the beginning or use an existing site’s pull to build a brand, and start a site only when the audience is ready for monetisation?
until next time, a group of communities