Soul of a Social Network

Unlike other hosting services where we can host our photos, music, data, or other things, hosting friends list ( on a social networks) is a bit different. Photos, Music, and Data are “objects”.  Friends are not objects. They are real people with emotions and thoughts. They can identify good from bad and have feelings about certain things or certain way of doing things. This makes hosting of friend list different than hosting any other “possessions”.

A social network not only has to provide competing services but also has to appear very genuine in its interaction with its users. It should give a perception of being an active “listener” and not causing “harm” to the social fabric. More importantly, it should not appear to be piling on the private information of people and profit from it. People, in general, understand that the Social Networking company has to make money to provide the service to them. But if they feel that the company is just bent upon extracting money off of their personal profiles, there would be a sense of disenchantment among the users.

Recent euphoria about G+ validates this theory. G+ seems to be more open than Facebook and for a large portion of users, it appears to be closer-to-heart than Facebook. It violates privacy almost as equally as Facebook does. But still people are happy to give it a pass. Difference being that G+ appears to be listening to what people are talking about. Hordes of Google Product managers + Engineers are openly soliciting feedback in public stream. I myself had a hangout experience with G+ product Managers where I shared my opinions and gave some inputs. Whether or not these suggestions are accepted is another thing…but atleast Google plus appears to be making an effort to be closer to people’s hearts. And thats what counts when you want to host their friends list and be a provider of their social fabric.

Google Plus

Reading about Google+ a lot. It seems that it solves some of the basic problems that I discussed in my last blog post about Twitter.

Interesting to see how G+ will do with the masses. Techies live in a different world…so I am keeping my fingers crossed for the mass release.

Yahoo and its comeback

Yahoo is good at generating Content. In 90s it was a very good core competence to have but after the onset of social media (esp. blogs), generating content has become a commodity. Anyone can generate content…and thanks to Google and Twitter, this content can be searched/distributed by anyone across the globe. People do not have to go to big brands (like Yahoo) to find good content.

In this context, Yahoo’s core competence became irrelevant. It tried Search..then it tried Digg style ranking, and now a days it is trying to be social (with yahoo connect). My thoughts: For a company that is as big as Yahoo..these strategies will not be helpful. Remember…you can not beat them at their own games. What Yahoo needs to do is…play its own game and let people compete with it on its own turf. In business language: Develop a new core competence.

There is a general notion that “social/connection” is important. No doubt it is…but it is only as important as the content that is shared between the connections. So, in a view, “content” is more important than the “social”. Yahoo has a lot of content (its strength). What it needs to do is to find out a way so that the content can “connect” with the user. A lot of pattern learning, profile learning, and behavior analysis will be required for this. . To cite an example: Let us imagine a scenario where you go to the Yahoo site..and find stories breaking out (just like Twitter) that are very relevant to you. Will you not go to Yahoo again and again to see that? I will. And the best thing is that Yahoo has the resources to do that (another strength)

Yahoo, are you listening? I will love you for ever, if you are able to do that.

ciao~

 

Core Competency and the buzz

Every successful company has a “core competency” that gives it the assets to be unique, strong, and ahead of the curve to beat the competition. Top managers know that “Core competencies can not be copied”. But still, sometimes the buzz around CEOs creates such a big pressure that they overlook the basic rules.

Social Media is the buzzword for the past several years. With Facebook taking the Silicon Valley by storm, a lot of people have started believing that every company should either have “Social” in their products or they are out of touch.

Facebook

Core Competency: “Ability to connect users with each other in an informal way”

Twitter

Core Competency: “Ability to distribute/broadcast content/information”

Google

Core Competency: “Ability to find the meaning (context) of content/information”

Yahoo

Core Competency: “Ability to generate content/information”

All core competencies are good…but the business cycle makes importance of competencies go up and down with time. No matter what the business cycle is, the fundamental rule still holds: “Core competency can NOT be copied”. In layman’s terms: “You can not beat him in his own game”.

Let us see what these companies are doing now a days:

Facebook is pretty happy because the current buzz is “social”. They have to be careful because, with business cycle, the importance of their competency will change. Twitter also feels good, but somehow is being pulled into being “social”. Google is holding Search to its heart but is a bit disturbed by the “social” . I hope its not trying to copy Facebook’s core competency, else it will fail. Yahoo tried the “search”..and is now trying “social”..with no success.

So, what should the companies do?

Simple answer: Adhere to these 2 principles of Core Competencies:

1. Do not make a mistake and loose your own core competency. Remember, others can not beat you..but you can still loose (if you mess up).

2. Develop other (new) core competencies that are currently non-existent in the industry. Simply said: “Think beyond social”

Ciao~