Friday, 21 March 2008

Strategy Verdict - - my article featured in Media Week

I was recently asked by Media Week to write a 'strategy verdict' on the launch of and they featured my piece in this weeks edition :

"Social networking is no longer restricted to mass-market sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Media players such as Bauer are also climbing over themselves to get a piece of the social networking pie.

Bauer is tapping into this trend by launching, a social network-ing site for film fans and music lovers. The decision to embrace social media and the opportunities it has to offer is a brave one. certainly looks the part - it is well designed and easy to use. It combines elements of dating sites, community sites and the Amazon-like recommendation model to allow users to discover and share films and music with like-minded people.

However, the success of the site will depend on the number of users it attracts. Bauer is a dominant player in the music and film magazine market, but by entering the social media arena it will suddenly find itself surrounded by a large number of competitors. User numbers for, Yahoo Music and Radio 1 are huge, and while going niche may be an advantage for Bauer, advertisers will always prefer large user numbers.

I wonder, therefore, whether Bauer is better off launching within an existing social networking property where user numbers will be bigger. The iLike application on Facebook, for example, which lets users add music and videos to their profiles, started life as a stand-alone website struggling to attract significant numbers. When it was launched as an application on Facebook six months later, one million users signed up in the first week alone. If continues as a stand-alone social network, I would like to see Bauer extend advertising options beyond the site itself.

Advertising options that run across a range of channels, including, and Bauer's magazines and TV channels, for example, will deliver more value to both brands and Bauer. After all, the future of such niche social networking sites will depend on the return on investment they deliver to publishers.

Review by Nick Burcher, Board Director, Zed Media"

This was also featured on Brand Republic here:


Anonymous said...

I think the growth will be in the use of smaller, more focused, niche social networks that cater to a particular interest, hobby or vocation. These smaller sites will allow like-minded individuals and groups to connect, exchange ideas and receive genuine and useful support.

These kinds of sites will also be attractive to advertisers as they get targeted demographics to spend their online advertising budgets on.

Thanks to sites such as ning, anyone can start a niche social network about anything. There's also a search engine to help find niche social networks that lists thousands of networks for a whole range of subjects,

Nick Burcher said...

I agree that niche communities are the next phase of social networking, but I think people need to think carefully about how to run them.

A well executed Facebook page / Facebook group may be a better place to host a community than a whole new social network. The example I used of iLike getting more traffic on their first day on Facebook than in the entire preceeding 6 months when they were standalone illustrates this nicely. However there are contrasting examples with companies like Screwfix who have managed to develop thriving communities through their own websites (Screwfix have a high traffic builders and electricians discussion forum on their website site.)

The main thing is to follow your audience. Setting up a social network / bespoke community may or may not be the answer I guess it depends on the product, the desired audience and their existing habits.