Social Networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are all the rage at the moment for the potential they offer some businesses. They do offer tremendous applications for building community and even building business but these giants also possess some real limitations for most businesses due to the overwhelming size and potentially unfocused nature of the community inhabitants. (Do you really want some creepy 16 year old reading all the private, intimate details about your products?)
So, maybe you’re like many who think that the idea of building a community with lots of tools that help them share, interact, and create content that is focused on a single, perhaps very niche, topic of interest to all the members of the network is a great idea.
If so, you could easily find a developer to spend hundreds of hours hacking together a network offering just for you or, you could look into a growing list of tools that are made for people who would like to create their own social network branded just for their business or topic needs.
The leaders in this space are Ning and KickApps, but there are others as well. Ning wins the award for simplicity and boasts over 70,000 users. KickApps offers people with just a little bit of web coding skills the best option for creating a social network that integrates more seamlessly with your existing web presence in look and feel.
I am in the process of creating a Duct Tape community offering using KickApps that will allow Duct Tape readers to submit content, including video, share marketing stories, get marketing help and basically interact with like minded small business marketers. More to come on that!
If you have an interest in this topic you might want to start your research by reading this TechCruch article titled the 9 Ways to Build Your Own Social Network