Social networking is all the rage at the moment. I’m attending meetings where clients are buzzing about creating a community… and I find myself challenging their enthusiasm. I return to a simple question: “So what”. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and ask “What’s in it for me?” Leisa says this succinctly:
If you’re thinking of joining the bun rush (or your client has insisted that they must), I think the first and most important question to ask is from your potential users perspective – what’s in it for them? What’s their motivation to sign up, to find and make friends, to participate, and to come back, ever?
What is it about a community that you are looking to build? Indeed is it really a community that you want per se, or is it more about building affiliation around your products? Where is the justification for the investment? Is the business case geared more towards product development; about letting your customers comment on your products, providing feedback that you can use to improve, enhance and develop new products and features – a forum for listening to your customers conversations?
Maybe you think there is something in your proposition and it demands a social network. How are you going to make it a destination of choice, to cut through the noise of every other social networking site (how long before we see friendship fatigue setting in?) Facebook has opened up its APIs to the outside world – Could you leverage Facebook, developing applications that will sit on their platform rather than trying to build a network from scratch?
But most importantly keep asking So what? What is in it for me?