On the Web, the struggle to be number one is a fight between Google, Yahoo, MySpace and AOL. However, in light of the massive growth of social networks within these companies, many Web users are ditching them in favor of niche (specific interests) social networks. (And they love it.)
CNN ran a story discussing the value that smaller social networks provide for the Web. In the article, a Web users connects with fellow athletes on a sports competition network for athletes. No, you won’t find me on there; but that’s why it’s great. By minimizing the noise to the signal out there, users can more effectively communicate with each other.
Niche social networks capitalize on the fact that their users are there for one specific interest and therefore the relevancy and the engagement of that network increases with their users. The very caveat of MySpace, Facebook and others is the strength of these social networks.
At the heart of it, users of smaller networks want to identify with them; want to “matter” for their causes and meet people with the same interest. MySpace is so full with users, not that many can every truly get a cause, an event, a message out beyond their network of friends. Essentially, attention-whoring is now dead on MySpace.
As social media matures, the connections between people such as friends, family, co-workers, internet friends will be more valuable than ever before. We all suffer information overload currently. While many people are aware of these kind of groups from the AOL Buddy List. It’s a shame the company didn’t expand that feature so people can organize their buddies more effectively. I wouldn’t mind if they forced people to tagging their contacts, it (could) have helped users for e-mail organization, IM organization among other things.