Brian Balfour from the Social Degree Blog talks about the various qualities of a social network. He proposes three broad characteristics that great social networks share and his readers add three others.
- Personality/Identity: “The best of social networks have their own personality or identity, just like a living being.”
- Fun: “They are a place to socially interact with other people”
- Genuine: “user interactions are for the best of the community”
- Utilitarian: “for example the knowledge sharing on Delicious in the form of shared bookmarks” (proposed by Andrew Weissman)
- Self promotion: “Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors (…) By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube.” (Via CNN, proposed by Lafayette Howell)
- Trusted: “I think people keep coming back to a site because they can trust the information that is on it is genuine” (proposed by Robert Franklin)
What it means: two thoughts. First, in my personal experience, the utilitarian aspect of social tools always win. I’m completely addicted to Linkedin and I’m starting to appreciate more and more del.icio.us (3 years after everyone else!). Might be because they help me a lot in my professional life. Second, I think the social networking phenomenon within the teen and young adult communities is really all about quantifying popularity. The number of “friends” you have on MySpace (for example) shows others how popular and “in” you are. To a certain extent, it validates your worth vs. your peers. This would be the “Self-promotion” aspect discussed above.