Monday, March 27, 2006

A Movable Feast: New Social Portals as The New Bar-Hopping

The announcement of an upgraded version of the popular Buzznet social publishing portal happens to coincide with the conclusion of spring break activities for many college students, so it's not surprising that the portal features photos, comments and stories from this annual pilgrimage of party spirits. It also helps to underscore the increasing similarity of many of these services: there are only so many ways that you can post pictures, comments and other personal content, just as there are only so many ways that you can go into a bar and get drunk. From the users' standpoint, that's probably not a problem. Kids love to hop from one hot spot to another, so having a variety of social content services at their disposal is probably not too different from having a strip of bars along the beach in Fort Lauderdale to support their real-world social endeavors. Wherever the scene gathers at the moment, there they go, from one bookmark to the next.

But this vagabond spirit also highlights the importance of developing communities that are likely to have a little higher quality clientele and more of a sense of true community rather than casual relationships if advertisers are to make the most of social content services. There's plenty of money to be made in social content "gin mills," but it's in general a far better idea to be thinking about your audiences ahead of time and setting up features and reefs of high-quality content that are likely to attract a specific type of clientele for your advertisers. This may sound a little too much like - gasp! - publishing for some people's tastes, but as the breadth of social content services grows ever wider it will become far more important to think out loud ahead of time as to what you want your clientele to be when the party's over.
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