Social networking sites are still all the rage. The challenge lately seems to be coming up with something that is not only new and original but adds value. Of all the sites where I have created an account LinkedIn is still the only one that I will use multiple times a week due to the value I receive from their service. As a business person, it is extremely valuable to stay on top of changes in my network and being able to leverage my network in my business dealings.
Today for example I came across Dopplr for the first time and have to ask…why bother. If I don’t see the value, either personally or for some greater good, in investing my time creating yet another profile and entering in yet another set of data I won’t do it. While the idea behind it is interesting, the value isn’t there for me. Especially if I have to hand enter the information that makes the social network work.
On the flip side of this coin, I have come across a few that I find really interesting.
One is a stealth social network site that I was granted early access to which not only is a new twist on an old idea but has the potential to add value in an area that is still lacking. The trick is always figuring out how to monetize the community without upsetting the community or destroying the value of the information that draws the community to the network in the first place. This, usability, and my knowledge of the target user community, were the areas that I was talking to this company about. Unfortunately, I was granted access under the agreement that I wouldn’t talk about it yet…so I have to honor my NDA for now, but stay tuned for more as soon as it launches.
Another is a site that my wife came across this morning, Carbonrally. This is such a simple, yet wonderful idea; one of those that surprises you that no one has done something like it before. From their mission statement:
“Carbonrally is a web-based activism platform offering individuals and groups a fun, simple and social way to have a measurable impact on climate change. “
It’s not only a social network of people wanting to fight global warming, but also a platform to enable this through simple challenges that help you reduce your carbon footprint. Yet, by making these challenges competitive and by tracking how you and others do in these challenges, they tap into the human competitive spirit to drive people to have an impact. Combine this with some basic statistics to help you gauge your impact on regional basis (and extend that competitive nature by comparing your region’s impact to others) and you have a very compelling social network that creates real social change.
Unfortunately, I failed today on the latest challenge. I forgot my commuter mug when I got my morning coffee…but after the gentle reminder and concrete information on the impact that my forgetfulness had, I won’t tomorrow.
The future challenge that I see Carbonrally facing is how to keep the site engaging for users so that when the initial competitive thrill wears off there is a reason for the users to keep coming back. There will always be the die hard planet saving types who will create the core of the community, but they need to expand beyond that core to really have global impact. The fact that the topic of the community is something altruistic in nature might help them. Time will tell.
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