As a result of the overwhelming response that I've received from the post I made on MyRagan's forums last week, combined with Shel Holtz's similar appeal for pro-MyRagan stories, I'm conceding defeat in this round. (UPDATE: I find it slightly disappointing that neither my comment from Friday nor any other comments have appeared on Holtz's MyRagan blogpost. What gives, Shel?)
While I had thought that MyRagan was a backwater, the number of people commenting on my blog in favor of MyRagan showed me two things. First of all, it showed that there are a number of people who are passionate about the site, passionate enough to vocalize their opinions and defend MyRagan. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the number of people connecting from my original post on the MyRagan forums and Shel Holtz's MyRagan blogpost was overwhelming, and proof that there is a very active community of communicators.
If you want to read through all the comments that I received, take a look at these two posts of mine (first one, second one). Some of the highlights:
MyRagan's managing editor Micheal Sebastian points us in the direction of this article from the New York Times website with a ton of comments in favor of niche social networks.
In one of the most valuable comments, Valarie writes "I’m not a big networking kind of gal, but myragan has been very helpful to me as a professional resource. For example, my boss is working on a report about Internal Communications for senior management. She wondered where the Int Comms dept reports into in other companies (PR, Marketing, CEO, etc). Instead of spending ages on the web trying to research the matter, I put the question to a myragan forum. I received some good responses, including one from a Ragan staffer who recently conducted an Int Comms survey and could quote me exact percentages from his research. So I was able to retrieve some good information with a minimal amount of time invested in the research."
It is her idea that we can get solid data and great ideas from MyRagan that has certainly made me think twice.
And another good argument in favor of MyRagan comes from one of their own employees, Benswetland (I don't know if I should be thinking of that name as Ben's Wetland or Ben Sweatland, but both are pretty sweet): "What I like about myragan in particular and niche social networking sites in general is that they allow me to show a different “face” or side of myself, something I couldn’t do if I was only on one site. I have a myspace site for my band, another for my friends, a facebook profile for my friends, and a myragan page for my colleagues.
In a very real sense I’m different people to each group, and it’d be silly (and bad for my career) to use the same profile for each one. I take it you’re on Facebook for professional reasons only, but you’re in a decisive minority there. Maybe someday Facebook will figure out how to show different sides of ourselves to different groups of people (a personal profile/a professional one) in some kind of intelligent way. I think it’s a major hurdle for a Facebook to solve. But they haven’t yet to my knowledge. Until they do I see social networking going the way of magazine publishing: diversified niches."
Ben assumes wrongly that I'm on Facebook for professional reasons, however I do have a number of professional contacts on there. While I am able to use the limited profile setting to prevent them from seeing content that is, uh, 'unprofessional' it would be nice to have more
content control over the content I'm sharing. Separate identities on different social networks such as what Ben suggests certainly makes sense.
There was also still some encouraging objectivity in a few of the comments.
As Richard Becker* writes, "the ideas are not bad over there as much as the execution and attitude. I’ve seen a few niche social networks work well (just not one that seems to resonate with communication-related professionals). Social niche networks rely on leadership more than platforms.
If there is a challenge with MyRagan, it’s in the presentation of their own material and the lack of content leadership (as opposed to content management)." He goes onto provide some examples of this, and I urge you to take a look at what he has to say in the comments section of this post.
Donna Papacosta makes a similar statement when she suggests that MyRagan should have a better way of informing users about new content on the site.
I'd still like to hear what Jeremiah Owyang has to say about MyRagan (considering his views on Facebook), but in general I'm going to make greater efforts to involve myself in MyRagan. I'm still not 100% convinced that the site will make it to a successful first birthday, but if they do I accept the invitation to the party. I'll be the guy in the corner eating a big serving of humble pie. In the meantime, add me as a friend on Facebook or MyRagan.
Thanks to everyone who commented or came over to BlogCampaigning to take a look.
UPDATE: Take a look at what Buzz Canuck has to say about Facebook
*Love that moustache, Rich