Last week Dan Greenfield and I chatted by phone about the question "does ‘if you build it, they will come’ work for social networks?" (I say no.) Dan’s post is up today and is worth a read. Here’s an excerpt, read the whole thing here. Dan:
"In one of my favorite movies, “Field of Dreams,” the main character Ray Kinsella struggles with the idea of building a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. Questioning his sanity, he does so with the assurances from a voice that tells him: “If you build it, they will come.” In the end, he is amply rewarded.
Today’s corporate communications professionals probably don’t worry about baseball fields, but when faced with the idea of launching a social network they should not be faulted if they ask themselves the same question: “If we build it, will they come?”
As more companies launch forums, build social networks, or create FaceBook or MySpace pages, there is pressure to follow suit. And that’s not an easy task. Social networks force corporate communications professionals to face a legion of concerns, none more pressing than achieving critical mass. The blogosphere is rather unforgiving, and an irrelevant social network can be worse than no network at all.
In launching a social network, it is tempting to create a FaceBook page and declare mission accomplished. Yes you can check off that item on your social media to do list. But having friends on your company page rarely taps a user base looking for a meaningful forum to engage with your brand or company.
That is why I called some social network companies KickApps, GoingOn, CollectiveX, Broadband Mechanics, Snapp Networks, Haystack, and ONEsite. They provide tools to help companies build and brand their own unique social networks. Mark Hendrickson’s Techcrunch piece based on initial research by Jeremiah Owyang was very helpful in identifying these companies."