– Lessons from other social media sites

So I have started to rebuild my old site

Basically FunkAll is an old social networking site. I originally built it before people understood what social networking was.Back in 2004 people were very skeptical of interacting and sharing your entire life online. Today people are a lot different and in some cases willing to put their credit card details on their profile, a little too far in my opinion.

The big problem we face now is how to find a niche in the social media square. There is dominance by FaceBook, Twitter, and MySpace. Google and Microsoft also want to get in.

So I have started looking at the core of what a social network is:

  • Sharing of information with people,
  • Engaging and interacting with other people,
  • Finding people you know, use to know or would want to know,
  • Making your claim on the the web, and
  • Getting information about people

FaceBook is a clear winner in sharing information with people you know, while Twitter is the leader in spreading information to many. Personally I feel Twitter is like a room full of people yelling and the occasional person responding back or repeating what you yelled. FaceBook is good at sharing lots of crap, especially around social games, I really do not want to help you pick pumpkins.

FaceBook is really good with the ability to tag people in multimedia allowing for greater interaction, especially if you are tagged. FaceBook’s strength for information sharing is the ability to post text, photos, and videos, as well as mark you location, tag, share events, and company pages. If they improved their layout and usability it would be almost impossible to find a niche.

Sharing photos is a strength in the FaceBook and MySpace camps. People like to look at themselves and the people they know. Especially true if you are looking up someone from your past, you want to see if they are hot or not. This needs to be a big part of FunkAll. If you can make uploading and sharing photos really easy then there is opportunity to capture the attention of people. This will defiantly help in network effects. However FaceBook is very good at this already.

Status updates have become a big focus of social media. Twitter is the best at this. The users of Twitter are really focused purely on posting status updates. This due to the fact you can only post text and links, as well as an extremely limited profile. Again FaceBook has a good Wall feature, though it is full of mindless automated messages. LinkedIn, is sort of there, mainly because the content is very focused. I believe status updates are important to allow people to be self-indulgent, not in a bad way. It means they can share with the masses things of interest to them in hope of finding others in their network who are also interested. And in other cases it is just a good way to boost about yourself.

YouTube has made interacting via video and text a form of ongoing dialogue. FaceBook has used in much the same way as photos. There is opportunity to make more with video especially because of the new HTML 5 spec. Though the problem with video is the demand it places on resources. This will be a future focus. Maybe a VC can help here.

Sharing you location and finding others around you is a new way to interact at a whole new level. This is an exciting field that FourSquare has managed? to leverage quite well. Grindr has created a unique social network by allowing gay men to find other gay men around them on their mobiles. Mobile social networking is going to be very big and is very simple to implement. The ability to find people possible at the same conference, concert, airport etc as you is quite exciting. There is also a lot of opportunity in the dating market.

Finding people needs to be easy. At the same time there needs to be a definition around the network people are building:

  • FaceBook – mostly people you know
  • MySpace – mostly people with similar interest
  • Twitter – people you find interesting (too much SPAM)
  • LinkedIn – you professional network

Finding people on these networks is done by:

  • Search
  • Networks/Groups
  • Schools/Organisations
  • Recommendations
  • Friends/Followers of friends
  • Badges on other websites

FunkAll is about being open. Therefore it is more likely to aim to be like the MySpace model of building networks around people, while employing a Twitter type model of followers.

FaceBook has a standard look and feel for every user, Twitter allows you to change you background image and MySpace really lets you make it your own. GeoCities in the 90’s strength was you ability to make something which was totally yours. This was fun. I think this something that FunkAll should aim to do. The MySpace model is really good. The one problem you do face is some profiles can start looking really bad.

Ultimately when people visits these sites they are interested in finding information. The better the data is organised the better. Everything needs to be simple.

If you want please visit my profile.

One comment

  1. Hi son,

    I like your essay on Who knows, maybe you will be rich one day.

    I was looking at and thought that it would be nice to see the end result on there. You know, a picture of baby Sachin on the day of his birth.

    Personally, I still think that has the most potential of all your websites and would like to see it developed into a social media type website.

    Maybe you could combine it with a family tree and family connector type site because relaistically we are spread around the world these days and it would be nice to have a family contact website rather than just a facebook page that can be viewed by nearly anyone.

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