The nature of why social networks work is an interesting beast and Im always excited to join in conversations regarding them. My experience with 95% of these networks is that they do not maintain my interest past a day or two even if I am REALLY trying to pay attention.
So what makes a them sticky and what keeps the users coming back? Maybe it is possible I just havent found MY social network yet. According to an article I read today (from the leader of the Yahoo! Technology Dev Group), 1% of any given group starts something (creates the initial content), 10% participate (adding to the pile) and everyone else just lurks (reads). I lurk at MySpace, I lurk at TagWorld, I lurk at Yahoo Groups…but I have never wanted to become the 1% or 10% (for the most part) at these places. Maybe something will come in podcasting where I could be the 1% or 10%.
As Yahoo! has been gobbling up many social media sites over the past year (Flickr, upcoming, del.icio.us) I often get asked about how (or whether) we believe these communities will scale.
As an example take Yahoo! Groups.
* 1% of the user population might start a group (or a thread within a group)
* 10% of the user population might participate actively, and actually author content whether starting a thread or responding to a thread-in-progress
* 100% of the user population benefits from the activities of the above groups (lurkers)
There are a couple of interesting points worth noting. The first is that we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to convert 100% of the audience into Ã¢â‚¬Å“activeÃ¢â‚¬Â participants to have a thriving product that benefits tens of millions of users. In fact, there are many reasons why you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to do this. The hurdles that users cross as they transition from lurkers to synthesizers to creators are also filters that can eliminate noise from signal. Another point is that the levels of the pyramid are containing – the creators are also consumers.