What (Really) Comes After Social Networks

Rewind to late 2007. Amy Katz and I were working on a stealth startup and trying to decide whether to focus the bulk of our effort on (A) a blog-centric content model or (B) a social network-centric content model. We ultimately arrived at a hybrid approach -- building community-driven blogs.

To develop that approach, we spent considerable time at WordCamp conferences (for WordPress developers and users) and also tested a range of social- and blog-centric platforms like Ning (once owned by Mark Andreessen), TypePad and plenty more.

Remember: This was late 2007. As Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and so many other social networks battled for mind share and market share, we ultimately concluded that the world didn't need yet another social network. So we went down the blog/community path -- building a media company, selling in 2011, and exiting in early 2014.

Now What?

Fast forward to 2015. Amy Katz and I are mostly consulting in the IT world these days. But as we glimpse ahead to the future of media and social networks, we see the emergence of so-called market networks -- the blending of social networks with marketplaces. Examples include AngelList, DotLoop, HoneyBook, Houzz and Joist, notes TechCrunch. In some ways, I think you can add ChannelEyes -- driven by Jay McBain and Bob Godgart -- to that list.

A successful market network addresses six needs, TechCrunch notes:

  • It simplifies complex services.
  • Attracts the right people.
  • Drives collaboration in the right way.
  • Allows you to build deep relationships.
  • Ensures referrals flow freely.
  • Speeds transactions and boosts customer satisfaction.

Now, apply those examples to the path that most media companies are on. You'll see a major disconnect. Instead of building true communities, many media companies are obsessed with "social shares" on third-party platforms (Facebook, Twitter), and curated content that often adds little value to the original coverage. The resulting "community" provides the worst lift of all: Escalated bounce rates.

What does all this mean for Amy Katz and me here at After Nines Inc.? It's far too soon to say. But we deeply respect the emerging market network model.

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