The Future of Social Networks Is Vertical
Even as social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook grow, in order to remain relevant they will need to evolve. In my opinion that evolution will contain the formation of vertical marketplaces. Social networks for artists, attorneys and consultants already exist, but none of them have attracted the kind of adoption that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter enjoy.
Think about it, how many real estate agents, designers and accountants are on Facebook already? The tough thing about building a social network is to get the kind of adoption and participation you need to make the network a viable place to hang out. The major networks already have that and can tap it by creating networks within the network. The time might be right for outside players to insert vertical pushes if the networks don’t partner with associations and other data providers poised to offer an impact in a vertical market. (Seems to me that most industry associations and interest groups should be considering this kind of approach.)
Next week LinkedIn is announcing a partnership with a real estate industry player that will push to create a real estate portal on LinkedIn that can provide agents and consumers with commercial and residential listings within LinkedIn. A healthy recruiter community already exists on LinkedIn so a jobs database would be pretty easy to create. This approach would reach beyond the typical “groups” implementation to something much richer in terms of content and specific opportunities for engagement. Twitter lists combined with a Google search for job title or industry in a bio is one way to craft a list of any profession on Twitter. That process alone might be a good place to start. Look for more on this from the networks as they continue to evolve for business use.
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