What is a social network? I often hear answers like, “it’s like Facebook or MySpace”. Sometime’s the response is “Second Life”. What I’ve been noticing however, is that over the past year (due to the successes of several online communities), social networks are morphing. Increasingly, they are no longer simply – Friends, Chat, Direct Messaging, Blogs, etc. Many companies are now creating what I will call “Hybrid” Social Networks.
What are these “hybrid” social networks? Generally, they include many of the functions in Facebook or MySpace, but are also tied to or integrated with Virtual Worlds, MMOGs, Television Programs, and even that “old media”, Books . At Donat Group, we have several projects that are doing just that…just check out MTV’s Virtual Lower East Side project. But that’s just the technology side of things…what about the business drivers?
Today’s Furrier.org post – Finding the Next Google nicely summarizes one of the key business drivers behind these “hybrid” network activities. Microcontent will be a viable business model. Knowing this, many large media companies are already creating the necessary online communities/networks to monetize a variety of microcontent. These projects are not merely initiatives to merge (or play with) social technologies, they are new ways to expand and connect with an audience, and hence, more advertising opportunities. However, one major challenge for these media empires will be ensuring that the advertising is appropriate for the community. A very fine line, indeed! All of this makes for some interesting times ahead!