Is your network a community?

Post by Forrester: “Is your network a community“identifies the difference between different online relationships/ networks. A network does not necessarily constitute a community.

She also discusses this  in reference to the different web 2.0 apps around at the moment. We often tend to lump both online networking relationships and online communities in the same basket but Chloe outlines some key differences. She also outlines a process for developing a successful social networking strategy. A very worthwhile read.

She identifies the following networks/ communites:

  • “Emotive networks (e.g., CarePages, PreludeDriver.com) — Commonality: a powerful emotional experience, like being diagnosed with an illness or loving a particular type of car. Motivation to connect: find people to share your experience with.
  • Advice networks (e.g., Berkeley Parents Network, del.icio.us) — Commonality: you’re trying to do an activity like parenting in the Bay Area, learning about emerging technologies. Motivation to connect: get suggestions from someone whose perspective you value.
  • Dating networks (e.g., Match.com, Yahoo! Personals) — Commonality: you’re single, maybe you share similar social values. Motivation to connect: meet a sweetheart (not a community).
  • Blog networks (e.g., Micropersuasion, Greg Mankiw’s Blog) — Commonality: the ideas that you’re interested in. Motivation to connect: affect the public dialogue about the ideas.
  • Wiki networks (e.g., Wikipedia, CarGurus) — Commonality: you want the unvarnished, comprehensive truth to be free and available. Motivation to connect: get the whole picture.
  • LinkedinCommonality: you want to leverage business relationships. Motivation to connect: get a sales/deal contact, recruit someone, find a job.
  • Facebook — Facebook is a tool, not a network, although that may be changing. Existing offline networks use Facebook to socialize. Commonality: having gone to the same college. Motivation to connect: Socialize or build relationships with people of social standing. (I’m going to dodge the class bullet on this one — Dana Boyd has kicked off the discussion here:http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.html)
  • MyspaceThere is a strong commercial dimension to the networks forming on Myspace. Commonality: anything. Motivation to connect: be found by anyone, share. This open-door, hello-world atmosphere is especially conducive to small biz commercial activity (e.g., if I’m an unsigned band, I want anyone anywhere in the world to find me, buy my music, and come to a show).”

and in terms of marketing she recommends the following:

“To create an effective social computing strategy, I think you need to do an analysis of the networks, not the individuals, that you’re associated with:

1. List the offline networks your brands/products are associated with. Describe their points of commonality and participants’ motivations for connecting. Then identify the role your brand plays in those networks — are you the point of commonality? Do participants connect to share their love of your products or to make plans to tear down your call center?

2. List your online networks, their commonalities, motivations, and the role of your brand. Describe how they’re using SC to accomplish their goals.

3. Strategize — Is there offline networking that supports your brand that you could cultivate with online tools? Is there online networking you want to counter? Choose technologies or Web properties that facilitate the types of interactions or actions you want to take place.”

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