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September 27, 2007



If anything, the Internet has become even more fragmented (see YouTube) - so I wouldn't bet on a destination site. People also seem to forget that the ease of visiting the most popular site is the same as visiting the new up-and-comer, minus the excitement... In any case, content is the great constant, while the way to consume it is subject to trends and innovation which are always in flux.

Ryan Holiday

I think this is pretty much exactly what FLUX is doing--although most people have missed it. Networking features are going to be dropped in on top of existing successful sites--turning them into a community instead of going elsewhere to find one.

Noel Schlachter

Chris, I enjoyed your article on Social Networking.
I was curious what your thoughts were on the Social Networking site Yuwie. Yuwie has developed quite a niche by paying its members for their activity on the site. They have acquired over 100,000 members in their first two months. Could be a record growth.
Noel Schlachter
That Songbird Guy

Chris Baggott

Brilliant Chris.

We are consistantly seeing organizations chasing instead of engaging. It's still Seth's Interruption Marketing vs. actually showing your constituents the human face of your organization. It's still lazy.

Thanks for the insightful post.

Chris Baggott

Yann Motte, Co-founder & CEO, Webjam

Hi Chris,
We at Webjam can’t agree more with your analysis and that is the reason why we dreamed about a consumer tool that can blend seemlessly the ability to create and agregate content with social networking features. As you say, it is ultimately the individual, or the group or organization that they stand for with a purpose that is the destination, while the ability to connect is a powerful …feature indeed. That is why you’ll find on https://www.webjam.com the ability to mix easily on your site your own content (blog, photos…) with that of other sites (RSS, maps…), add community tools (forum, member list…), and start engaging with your community with various invitation, privacy, co-editing and collaborating (add your bookmarks to my own bookmark module for example) levels. In addition, because Webjam is a ultimately a community of destinations, you can always leverage what the community is doing best by replicating in one click the styles, modules, or even pages that you’ll find.
Compared to the « swiss army knife of the internet user » or a mix between MySpace, Blogger and Netvibes, Webjam goes beyond just a collection of profiles or groups to allow anybody to build a long-lasting web-presence and manage contacts around it. https://www.webjam.com/webjam/testimonials/


Given the debacle that SixApart has caused at LiveJournal with abysmal customer service this year, and their abandonment of Rojo, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for social networking features on TypePad. 6A has a history of rolling out unwanted and glitchy "upgrades" and ignoring much-needed and customer demanded improvements, as well as a corporate culture of failure.


chris, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. it's good timing.

i've been spending the last week or so playing with Ning to try to create the right environment for people on my current wordpress-based website, who've been wanting more interaction, discussion, and community building within the online dance world.

i'm so thrilled that someone has provided a way to let people experiment with niche social networks without having to start completely from scratch. these are exactly the features i wish i could incorporate onto my main site, but at least this is a beginning. looking forward to ning's blogging improvements too.

Ben Solleveld

I'm currently reading the book 'the victorian internet' by Tom Standage about the introduction of the telegraph in 1850. Exactly the same happened then as now with internet and social networking. With the visionaries, oddballs and eccentrics that pioneered it. Hypes and bubbles. And the focus on the innovation itself and not the use of it. Nothings changed really. Only the technique. Great book to read. And better yet if you know he wrote it in 1998.

Rich Tatum

I agree wholeheartedly with you: websites should (and ultimately will) include social networking tools and paradigms in their structure and usefulness.

I'd love to see features on my weblog where users could import their profile information from FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc., or create a rich profile of their own on my site. I'd love it if every comment left by a user linked to their profile and that that profile would show the content that user liked best, or which content that user and the viewer enjoyed in common. I'd love it if users could connect with each other more easily than in the comments section and I'd love it if I had a way to connect with my own users more easily than just posting an entry.

It'll come, though. It's a matter of evolution, survival of the fittest tools, and continuing ubiquity. As much as podcasting was "new" last year, and blogging new before that, and the Web new before that, people will start getting used to not only to the idea of "social networking" online, but they'll start expecting the best-of-breed tools they have come to know and love to be present everywhere.

I just wish it were here now!


Claire Smith

Hi Chris
Excellent book - really woke me up to the potential of the internet.

RE: social networking add-ons, isn't it also true that in order to fund the main business model of the internet - namely advertising - sites need to add more user benefit to increase the power of network effect initially for the user, and in the longterm, for their own back pockets. More network effect for the user surely equates more advertising dollar for the websites. What are your thoughts on this?

David Yeo

Niche social networking is great and it is happening from Ning ( a network of niche social networks) to built-from-scratch startups. The only question I have is whether stand-alone niche social networks will have greater barriers in monetization due to much smaller numbers.

In contrast to Ning, it is an aggregation of all niche networks. It can possibly devise a advertising model or sorts.

Robin Hamman

Hi Chris,
Unless I'm missing something, you seem to be advocated a build it, own it, spend the rest of your life throwing money and other resources at managing it model of audience engagement. You wrote:

"In the case of Wired, social networking is clearly a feature that we should have more of. But we shouldn't move the brand onto a MySpace page or a Facebook app simply to gain access to the tools that could connect our readers to each other... nstead, it's mostly something we should build or buy and integrate into wired.com wherever it makes sense."

Why? Why invest in platforms when you can, by simply making the call to action and linking elsewhere, do exactly what you are trying to do AND use industry leading tools with little or no investment?

When you build community or add social features into your website it simply doesn't scale well. There are technical costs, discussion hosting and moderation costs, legal and editorial risks - not only doesn't this scale well, it also probably merely super-serves and audience you've already got.

Making a call to action, wrapping your unique brand and style of editorial around links to third party services gets you out there, participating in front of potentially new audiences who have never heard of you or your magazine. Costs and risks are reduced. And you can move to whatever comes along next - something I'd think Wired would be keen to do considering that's exactly it's audience - quickly and with little investment of time or money.

Do your niche, sure, but why confine your efforts to build community around your brand to a small segment of your existing audience on your own site? That sort of behaviour, where you instinctively feel the need to host, own and control, is more media than it is social media.

Manny Hernandez

I can definitely attest to the fact that networks that focus on a very specific demographic or user base are what's ahead. And Ning is definitely a key enabler in this space. I founded TuDiabetes.com, a Ning-powered social network for people touched by diabetes and I could go on for hours explaining how the technology that they have developed has made what we do today possible.



I agree with your thoughts here. Social services should provide their value add based on the applications/features they offer over the user's social graph.

As of now services like Facebook and MySpace hot these graphs for the users and that is their killer app. In my mind the user owns his/her graph.

Once the graph is removed from these services and hosted in a consolidated environment, these services simply become features as you mention.

I wrote a post about this. Take a look and let me know what you think:

Find A Social Network

Niche social networks have experienced huge growth this year and this field will continue to grow in 2008. Even established companies and brands will build their own social networks to engage and market to interested parties.

We’ve recently launched a search engine that helps users find niche interest social networks and helps social network owners promote their sites.

Users search for sites related to whatever their own interests are and webmasters submit their niche subject sites tagged with related keywords.

The idea is that due to the increasing popularity and proliferation of niche subject social networking sites thanks to Ning et al, users have a way of finding like-minded communities and these social networks receive hyper-targeted traffic that helps build user base and monetize their web property.

Please take a look! We’re still building the database. Feel free to register and submit your niche social network or social media site for free.



Interesting to read the divide you placed in social networking, its almost becoming a geeks vs masses view now. You cant be cool on a social site unless that site is the latest buzz and has a random feature that you struggle to understand the point of.

Social networking at its most 'cutting edge' is becoming elitist. What people forget is that average joe wants to log on and be comfortbale instantly with the core features they expect, to go 'ooh' at the fun features and have laugh with friends and people they meet on the site.

Thats why general social networks are on the lips of everyone while outside geekworld you will struggle to find anyone in the street who does not think twitter is something a bird does....



Jeff Paul Internet Millions

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Chris, I enjoyed your article on Social Networking.
I was curious what your thoughts were on the Social Networking site Yuwie. Yuwie has developed quite a niche by paying its members for their activity on the site. They have acquired over 100,000 members in their first two months. Could be a record growth.
Noel Schlachter
That Songbird Guy

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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