I have had this post in draft mode for a few days when this morning I stumbled upon a post by Greg Verdino called Social media: how much is too much? which pretty much echoed some of my thoughts. After recounting his various memberships to different social networking sites he asks “Tired yet?…I am…”
He bravely asks:
“Are social media mavens living inside a bubble of our own making, artificially inflating the impact that most of these nascent technologies are having on the population in general, and ultimately getting our companies and our clients riled up over something that will, over time, turn out to be, well um, nothing?”
Well yes this is a very harsh statement and an overexaggeration but I found it a valid question to at least raise.
It seems every few days a new social network asserts itself on the web. While many marketing strategies are hanging themselves off theseexisting networks, we may need to ask ouselves first, how many within our target user demographic actually engage with these networks.
Being interested in these types of things, I often sign up to these sites to see what lessons and learnings this new improved network has leveraged and implemented altered from its predecessors.
Something that I have recently begun to wonder about is the large magnitude of forgotten profiles. Is there a virtual ghost town out there where abandoned ego extensions come out and be-friend each other? Hmmm…
I wandered too, what makes users stick to these sites? What makes them abandon them?
In order to remain engaged with a site, the user must be reaping some benefit. I am interested in what human social activities people derive from social networking sites, humans are social creatures after all.
Google has sponsored a masters project at Carnegie Melon Univeristy to design a social networking agggregation system called Social Stream. The Social Stream project has a blog where their reserch methodologies are defined. They have profiled a list of social networking users, aka “archetypes” including: The Dater, The Communicator, The Lurker, TheAddict…. ( check it out here ). These archetypes outline the different personality types and behaviours that users may engage with social networking sites to enact. I found it very interesting. You can read more about this here.
On another note, getting back to the original exert from Greg Verdino’s blog where he wonders whether social networking sites are largely populated by people interested in social networking. I found a virtual marketing conference put on by Crayon, an online marketing agency hosted in the Crayon amphitheatre in “Caryonville“, Second Life. Speakers, described by their avatar names included staff from Coco Cola and ivillage. What better place for a conference on such things? they actually have a weekly coffee with crayon event in SecondLife.