If you visited Europe lately, you may have overheard a certain lisp near the water cooler these days: that's because everone is talking about "SN" or "Social Networking." SN refers to websites that allow users to build their on profile, the ability to link with other users’ profiles and the opportunity to swap recommendations or referrals. Next to local versions of Myspace and Youtube, Germany cultivates countless home-grown brands such as the student community StudyVZ or Sport1.
I must confess that it is fascinating to watch these sites grow and to see how community members enthusiastically embrace the tools that these sites offer. After all, the Internet started out as a platform for sharing of news, content and contacts; Social Networking is the purest embodiement of this idea. However, website publishers should carefully ask themselves who their target group is before rigging up their own SN. According to a recent report by Jupiterresearch, 66% of people who use media sites do not expect these websites to to offer SN features. However, SN may change the expectations that users have in terms of the abilty to connect and share with other users, and may expect media sites to offer certain features that can be found on SL sites. The report quotes the ability to share event tipps and other recommendations as one of the top three features that SL users deem important.
Do you agree with the assumption that sharing recommendations is the most important feature in your social community? What features would you like to see emerge in communities such as Facebook or MySpace?