Building a Social Network or a Social Membership site is one of the hottest social media business topics today. Businesses are slowly realising the way to their prospect or customer’s heart is unlikely to be broadcasting sales messages or advertising and, instead, will be engagement and relationship. This is why social networking sites like Facebook Linked In and Twitter – to name just a few are so popular. People want to connect, and share ideas with like-minded people. What they share is content… and that content can be in a variety of formats. There’s one constant though – they don’t tend to like overly promotional content. Businesses now have to learn how to create content that’s educational and helpful rather than promotion. Going into these social communities and doing sales pitches won’t bring much success.
As I wrote in There’s more to social networks than Linked in, Twitter and Facebook there are many social networks where businesses can interact with potential customers. Depending on your needs however, you may find you outgrow general public social networks and want to build your own business community. This can take many different forms – from a membership site to a full blown network where members can build their own groups and networks, complete with chat room, video and more.
I’ve been thinking of setting up a social network for some time ,and for the past few months have been doing some initial tests. For the past few months I’ve been testing a few social networks I consider affordable.
Testing has meant trying to fit this in between my very busy schedule, so it’s been slow. It’s far from finished and I am still considering. But I have some ideas and thoughts I can share with you and I will post the remainder of my thoughts over the next few weeks.
I’m experimenting with two social networks – both of which are paid, and where I can end my subscription any time I wish. I will let you know which ones in a later post. Tip: If you want your own social networking community where you can control and own everything and don’t have some budget – forget it and stick to Facebook, Ning or any of the other free social networking platforms. I’ve always believed there is no “free lunch…” I still do.
Shoestring or not, you WILL need a budget. Even if you plan on doing all the technical stuff yourself – which, if you are busy doing other things like working or running a business, will be challenging.
I’m going to use different formats – as I like Mind-Mapping I’ve done Mind Maps for some and written about others. But for now, let’s look at some of the questions you need to be able to answer
Part 1 – Questions you need to answer if you are building a social network
Before you even begin building a social networking, membership or social community there are several questions you should be able to answer. Here are some of them – there are more.
1. Who is your target audience?
2. How does your service/product solve their problems/meet their need?
3. How will you make money?
4. What content will you provide?
Check out the Mind Map to see more details of these questions.
Note: The Mind Map opens in the Mind Map Player which will open in your browser. Click on the “+” sign to expand any branches. You can enlarge or reduce the map as needed.
These are my own observations and are not meant to be exhaustive. If you are setting up a social networking community or want to set one up share your thoughts and questions and I may include them in future posts.