4 Reasons Not to Add Social Networking to Your Site
Social networking sites have become virtual "town halls" for people to aggregate, communicate and share ideas with one another. These sites are also growing in numbers. Wikipedia says there are 111 recognized SN sites such as MySpace, orkut, Facebook, hi5 and Blogger. Mashable, the influential social media blog, acknowledges more than 350 sites. Many have been extremely successful in attracting membership and raising venture capital, and even sold for millions to billions of dollars.
SN sites are a key ingredient to search engine optimization, as well as gaining and retaining Web site memberships. However, social networking is not for every marketer or Web site. Here are four reasons it may not be a good idea to add social networking features to your site:
1. Social networking isn't the core purpose of your site. Are you building a site solely for the purpose of enrolling members for a specific community interest? If not, be careful. There are more than 350 sites competing with you for eyeballs. Thus, be prepared for an uphill battle to grow your membership. If you are not fully committed to this route in both design and marketing, try to think of another way to differentiate your site from your competition.
2. You don't have the time and ability to moderate. If you do, blog away. The more relevant content you have on your site with appropriate keywords, the better your overall SEO. However, many Web site owners want all the Web 2.0 bells and whistles but don't want to spend the time ensuring the content in their sites is relevant or appropriate. Once you've planted this digital garden, you have to feed it and weed it.
3. Your customers are already members of social networking sites. Think about the customers who are coming to your site. Are they already social networking site members? If so, try a different marketing approach to reach them — such as interactive gaming — which may be a better fit than creating profiles, chat rooms or instant messaging, any of which members of social networking sites already receive as members of these types of sites.
4. It's easier — and potentially more lucrative — to integrate with existing SN sites. Let's say you're trying to get the attention of the 18- to 30-year-old market. Why not create clever, original content that users will want to share with their friends on MySpace, YouTube or Facebook?
With combined memberships into the hundreds of millions, this may be a better awareness generator than creating your own SN site from scratch. When you make it easy for users to add your content to their current SNS pages of choice, they automatically share it with their friends.
Les Kollegian is founder of and creative director for the Jacob Tyler Creative Group, a San Diego-based design firm specializing in Web design and development, product design, and online marketing. Reach Les at firstname.lastname@example.org.