Golden rule of social networking: Don’t think “product”

Social networks aren’t products (and I mean the actual networks, not the applications that enable the networks). As this little blog entry points out:

A social network isn’t a product as such. Rather, the product that a social network provides is access to a large pool of other people.

I imagine people might counter-argue that social networks are a service, in order to make a case that they ARE, in fact, a product.

The notion that a social network is a product gives me a really bad feeling, gut-wise. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about product management or marketing to make a case.

Oh, just found something by Chris Anderson, of Long Tail fame, which refers to social networks as a “tool.” That feels better than “product” to me.

If there are any marketing folk out there, let me know what you think about this. Is a company’s social network a product?

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3 Responses

  1. They’re aggregators of eyeballs – the TV networks of the future. It’s easier to reach niche audiences than mass audiences today via traditional mediums. In my guesstimation social networks are selling the networkees, not the network.

  2. Meaning the draw is the other people on the network, yes?

  3. the draw is ALL of the people on the network, nicely sliced and diced into perfect segments based on their profiles and interests.

    the challenge is in monetizing those eyeballs without driving them away to another, less overtly commercialized, social-network.

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