Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Selling Social Networking

I just got on the Google+ bandwagon. Gawd…it took me an entire day to set up my account. I had to think of witty ways to describe myself. I had to select the coolest profile pics. I had to export my contacts on Facebook. But the hardest thing of all was identifying and organizing different circles of friends. While it was easy to classify some friends, others proved very taxing. I sort of had a notion that this simple task of dragging a friend to a particular circle was a great indication of what I truly thought of our friendship and would express the root of our relationship. In the end, I made practical choices (if I would most likely to this circle of friends about a particular friend behind his/her back, then he/she didn’t belong in that circle) rather than relationship-defining ones. While setting it up was such a pain, I willing got into it for one reason or another. This got me thinking: how do we really get to choose the social networking sites we’re hooked on?

For Google+, I guess, brand has a lot to do with it. Just because Google developed it, I expected and knew that it would be worth it because the interface would provide me an experience which encapsulates actual social networking. I mean, for example, this “circles” thing really makes sense. In real life, I rarely hang out simultaneously with different circles of friends; thus, I willingly spent an afternoon compartmentalizing my friends ‘cause I knew that it’d be a big help in the future.

But I don’t think it’s simply just branding. Take the case of Facebook. When I signed up for it, I had never heard of it before. I only joined because I had a couple of friends in the States who had accounts and said it would be easier to communicate if we were all in it. So, I guess, another factor would be word of mouth and peer pressure.

But, again, I don’t think it’s just word of mouth and peer pressure either. Because a lot of my friends are addicted to Twitter but I’ve never really actively taken it up. I think it’s because I perceive Twitter as mini-blogging and, as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I’ve never really been one to easily post things online. So another factor is the way the site is marketed and your perception of whether you think it’s right for you.

I’m sure all these contribute to one signing up for a site but, to really get people hooked, the site really should have quality. Quality, in the sense that it serves its purpose i.e. social networking. Also, it needs to keep up. Change is the only thing to keep people from getting bored. And you can see that Facebook believes this too (it awesomely just added video calling to its already extensive features).

This really makes me realize that social networking sites are all still products and it’s really interesting how various factors come into play to make people want a particular product more than others. It makes for an even more fascinating case study because what they’re selling is really an experience…an experience translated and simplified into a bunch of features. But in the end, as with all products, their markets just have to be carefully analyzed in order for better strategies to be formulated and come out on top.

Aldous Benjamin Camiso, Blog Entry #4.

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