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Social network shutdowns

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday June 11, 2008 ) will be shutting down it’s social network soon – it’s not the first big name to do so and it certainly won’t be the last.

According to Silicon Valley Insider,, formally will be shutting down on June 30. This wasn’t a lightweight social network, it had a reported 17 million members. This follows hard on the heels of Verizon’s announcement of it’s social network closing its doors in a few days and Flip, a social network for teen girls shutting its virtual doors in January.

So why? Social networking is still hugely popular, so I guess it boils down to bucks. Social networking platforms are very resource intensive beasties – so many different applications patched in together – forums, blogs, profiles, friending – it can be a real mess. Add on to that dealing with and policing members, trying to keep the spammers out and playing catchup as the other networks implement new features is nothing short of a nightmare.

Many companies are also having problems monetizing them. It reminds me a little of the challenges of building traffic to and monetizing forums.

The other problem is that people just lose interest in these rather generic social networks and tend to gravitate towards where their friends hang out – usually MySpace and increasingly, FaceBook.

There’s just so much competition – one of the newsletters I get daily showcases new social networks and the names popping up catering to all sorts of interests just never seems to stop. That’s probably one of the secrets of being succesful with a social network – addressing a very specific niche that you know in advance you can monetize – for example, a social network focused around a brand of motorbike or any other product that has a large following.

In a nutshell, if you’re thinking of starting up a social network using one of the many out-of-the-box applications around; you’ll need a unique angle, a really targeted niche and a lot of effort. Just setting one up and believing that if you build it, they will come will leave you very disappointed.


1 comment for Social network shutdowns
  1. Yes, the “if you build it” idea has since been overrun I believe as well. I see with some newer social networks that sometimes their is a flock when they first “open” but if the activity doesn’t start right away, the flock run away to a newer bigger and better pond :)

    Comment by Stephanie Haile Google Me — June 11, 2008 @ 4:37 am

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