As part of the recent debate that Shel Holtz and I had in the comments section of an earlier post I had made, Holtz provided me with this link to an article about how users of social networks have little or no brand loyalty. However, rather than reinforce the idea that niche social networks have their place, this article made me think that investing time in them is a waste of resources. Wouldn't this energy be better spent interacting in one place?
Holtz's comparison was that Facebook was like a large athletic park with a bunch of people playing various sports, whereas niche social networking sites like MyRagan are more like an organized team or league (please correct me if I've gotten you wrong here, Shel). What he fails to take into account is that Facebook is indeed the large athletic park, but it also encompasses all of the organized teams and leagues by way of the groups and specialized applications.
Part of the reason that greater interaction might be taking place in a venue such as MyRagan is because it is still the early days. While the social networking graveyard (R.I.P. Friendster) is proof that everyone moves onto something eventually, I feel that MyRagan won't even make its first birthday. The novelty of the site no doubt intrigues people at this point, that won't last much longer. As I've asked earlier (without answer), how many of those 8,000 members are actually active? Satisfied? Have fulfilling communications experiences with MyRagan?
MyRagan and its members would probably benefit much more from having all of their interaction take place in one solid place, where it becomes easier to recruit members.
Until some sort of token or universal passport system (allowing us to move between various social networks without having to create new ids, logins, etc) is created, it is a waste of time to invest heavily in multiple networks.
That said, I'm not against trying new things. By all means, check out the latest new development. If it is easy enough to use, people will flock to it, and it will replace the old system.
We're all probably social network sluts, but we also all probably have our ol' faithful, that one that you just can't give up. And I'm sure that at the end of the day, the numbers will choose Facebook, or the next universal social networking giant. Niche networks have had their fun.
If you have any success stories from MyRagan (or other niche social networks for that matter), I would like to hear them.