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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Social networking: friend, can you lend me a dime?

Orkut, Facebook, Hi5, and even their Indian clones, all seem to be in a desperate hurry to harness as many people as they can, a lot like the viral ‘Vampire’ and ‘werewolf’ bites on Facebook. Even as Google ties up with networking juggernaut MySpace to fend off the open platform in Facebook, a fundamental question still remains: how are they going to milk friends for money?

As the Economist Newspaper mentioned in its last but two issue, everyone seems to upping the value of these shared experience sites, without the sites making any money of their own. In many ways this is curious; it’s like building a colossal machine with plethora of gears, pinions and rods, but no defined function. But then again, in a world where the biggest search engine doesn’t make money from searching, social networking might have the silver sheen of ‘nerdinomics’, its just that we haven’t found it as yet.

And finding it may take a while. Search results are excellent start point for advertisers for the simple reason: people, who click the button, have an almost clear idea of what they want. Banner ads work, because hey, they are the first things to assault your eyes; pop-ups work because they just annoy you into making the effort to shut them, in the process you read it, bang another customer is informed of the latest viagra sale /penis enlargement / Harry potter book.

In social networking, people are connected to each other in unique (or at least that’s what we think) ways: This ones a friend cause he has that Metallica T-shirt collection, that one’s close cause you lived with him in college, and she's on the friends list just by the virtue of being a cutie. This web of friendship cannot be targeted with a single ad campaign, unless some one creates medicine/ stimulant/ book that stems from the human need of companionship.

Yet by opening up social networking sites to every developer, there is till hope that someone, somewhere will come up with a function or feature that will have the potential of targeting every one on the social graph. Until that happens, you can keep your busy by passing on that werewolf bite, and of course, barking at the moon.

9 comments:

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Amogh Ranadive said...

Hi Arjun, Amogh here. You might know me, I'm a fellow game reviewer for CHIP. Was just surfing around when I came across your blog. Add me on Gtalk or msn yeah> So we can stay in touch!

Cheers man!

btw, my blog:

http://www.justanythingunderthesun.blogspot.com/

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