Sunday, November 18, 2007

Social Networks and Blogs

Today I've looked at the various social networks that I signed up for, such as Facebook, MySpace, Mixx, LinkedIn, Winksite, Twitter, and docstoc, and the differences in these networks with regard to "engagement of users."

MySpace have "Tom" that is an automatic "friend" once you sign up, but that you can delete if you so wish. If you choose to keep "Tom", you will receive an email once in a while, but it's not as if you're bombarded with messages. If I want to "Cancel Account", I can do so in Account Settings.

Facebook have all their applications, third party applications, users, friends, groups, networks, but no "Facebook" intervention or active "engagement" via email or bulletins. In Account, I have the option to "Deactivate" my account.

Mixx have a statement on the "Your Mixx" that says: "Sorry, there's no recent activity from ............... You should bug them about this!" The goal is then for users to engage other users. You can also vote for and against users. Mixx have their blog and feedback but no option to cancel, delete, or deactivate an account.

LinkedIn show a "Profile Completeness" that encourages users to input more details, similar to a resume, about themselves. There's the "Get Recommended" option where users can give recommendations for each other, but the LinkedIn team don't actively coax users to participate. In searching, I didn't see an option to delete, cancel, or deactivate the LinkedIn Account.

Winksite's Founder is quite active in contacting users with assistance when signing up. What appears to be a random user may make contact (as in my case) to nudge you to make use of mobile web -- "If you're not going mobile, you're standing still." Under the section My Account, I have the option to "Delete Account."

Twitter have those involved in social media that start "following" and before you know it you've got a tail of "Followers". If you're not "Twittering", what use is this? Likewise, to interact, you should "Follow" others on the site. I am highly interested in Twitter, but find keeping up time-wise not fair to other users, so I deleted my account.

Docstoc have a team that engage users via email about the documents they may need. Jason Nazar, the Founder, is also actively available for questions. They then encourage users to upload documents too. Docstoc have recently added the ability to add your Facebook and LinkedIn Profiles to your Profile page. I didn't see an option in Settings or Profile to be able to delete, cancel, or deactivate the Account.

(If I've left anything out here, please let me know)

So, what do think works best?
  • The Facebook approach where users aren't contacted by the Facebook team but engage through affiliations and interests?
  • The MySpace approach that uses Tom as a kickstart and then users go from there creating their Space according to purpose and interest?
  • The Mixx approach of getting users to vote/rate each other in effect through content with a blog and feedback for engagement?
  • The LinkedIn approach of profile detail, connections, and recommendations without direct engagement?
  • The Winksite personal touch?
  • The Twitter approach through social media "engagers" and Followers?
  • The docstoc approach through personal/professional contact and relevant content?
It depends on the user doesn't it? Some users will be put off by certain approaches depending on their characters and style. Others may be more flexible to a wide range of approaches. Some may not have the time to be "personally engaged" and prefer a more indirect relationship with the social network team.


With the opening up of Facebook and other sites where users can interact in specific discussion groups and add applications, it does raise the question on whether only a handful of mainline blogs will remain while all other discussion (ie. users that would usually blog or setup their own blogs) will continue through the social network environment like Facebook and Myspace. Some may submit their blogs (as one can now do in Facebook) but others may opt to close their blogs and just join discussion groups where the audience is.

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