Jordan Kasteler, SVP of Content Development and Managing Partner at BlueGlass, looks at the growing value in niche social networks for Search Engine Land.
He points to FeedTheBull, a niche network for people interested in the stock market; YardBarker, for sports fans; and Path, a site where you can connect to just 50 friends.
Kasteler reckons that people tire of the same old, same old.
Much like GPS units, cell phones, or laptop computers, technology like social networking, which starts out as super-exclusive and only available to the select few, transcends its unavailability due to the rise of popular demand. Developers then work around the clock to make sure everyone has access to it, and in the end, it becomes outdated and ordinary because anyone has it or can get access to it.
This is where marketers always fail; they get too excited about the boom in popularity and the potential revenue it brings, yet don’t remember the unyielding fickleness public opinion.
Kasteler believes niche networks have a future because most people want to talk to people they know and share common interests with. He adds, “Internet users will also start looking for smarter ways to get personalized answers from experts to questions they can’t seem to find concrete, condensed information on just by typing in a few search phrases into Google or Bing.”
Which leads me to think a person might visit an industry leading blog and ask for a hand, or an opinion on something. It doesn’t take all the trappings of a soc net, like Ning provides. It doesn’t take a forum, which we offered at one time. It simply takes the willingness to interact.