Online Community Membership Swells; “No Single Company Can Capture the Social Graph”

In light of the latest Kelsey Conference in Seattle last week whose theme was “vertical marketplaces”, I read with great interest this eMarketer article about online communities. Analyzing a portion of the 2008 Digital Future Project“(.pdf) report produced by the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, eMarketer reports that “nearly half of US Internet users (…) said they belonged to a hobby-oriented online community, a full 41% of respondents belonged to an online social community, and one-third belonged to an online professional community.”

The following graph shows the types of communities users belong to:

Types of online communities

eMarketer also quotes a recent The Economist article that said “… that the future of social networking will not be one big social graph but instead myriad small communities on the internet to replicate the millions that exist offline. No single company, therefore, can capture the social graph. Ning, a fast-growing company with offices directly across the street from Facebook in Palo Alto, is built around this idea. It lets users build their own social networks for each circle of friends.”

What it means: I’ve often mentioned how much I like this Wired article about meganiches. I’ve often said that I’m a strong proponent of media “verticalization”. I therefore believe Ning is onto something really big as the social Web becomes more distributed.

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