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how social network’s shouldn’t think like TV networks

January 30, 2009

This is a great quote that wasn’t meant to mean Network, as in Social network, but meant instead to mean TV network.

“Networks are built on the assumption that audience size is what matters most. Content is secondary; it exists to attract passive viewers who will sit still for advertisements. For a while, that assumption served the industry well. But the TV news business has been blind to the revolution that made the viewer blink: the digital organization of communities that are anything but passive. Traditional market-driven media always attempt to treat devices, audiences, and content as bulk commodities, while users instead view all three as ways of creating and maintaining smaller-scale communities. As users acquire the means of producing and distributing content, the authority and profit potential of large traditional networks are directly challenged.”

Image representing Ning as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Social networks differ in that they are like a network with a million channels. On Facebook, one never gets to the masses, and yet, they lost a large market when Twitter caught on. Twitter is Facebook status as a network. While Facebook was innovating over there, Twitter launched over here and stole the need to update status.

This is the kind of niche I’m talking about. Ning is trying to capture the niche world, and doing a good job. But like TV networks that lost a lot of eyeballs to cable, the large, mass networks will most-likely lose eyes to niche networks.

Social networks, and clients thinking about starting a community, should focus on that one thing that will turn mass into niche.

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