Friday, October 7, 2011

Which Seat Shall I Take?

The world of social networks has exploded and although most of the talk has centered around the most prominent three or four, there are new tools being announced every day that provide or pretend to provide support for the individual or small business to be connected more powerfully to the marketplace.

Aside from the top three (I still consider LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to be the platforms with the most entrenched effective status although that's likely to change soon), there are new choices emerging that you may find interesting, and some that you may safely ignore.

Obviously a lot of folks are waiting to see what Google will do when they roll out Google+ business pages. The G+ network is growing rapidly (some 50 million active users according to recent estimates). When they unveil their business offering, it could be an option that many brands will be unable to ignore. Certainly, integration with search, with other Google products, and the advantage offered by a gargantuan and reliable underlying infrastructure is quite attractive. I remain hopeful.

Another recent player that has popped up is Ecademy. I was interested in this because I thought it might be a platform for connecting educators in a compelling way.

Now I could be overlooking something, but my first blush analysis is that this is another me-too platform with low horsepower, and which consists largely of a scheme to entice user subscriptions to access even the most basic useful features which are tucked away behind the pay wall.

Look, the value of a social network lies primarily in the answer to the question, "who's there?" When a network is in its initial growth stage, it needs to provide very powerful incentives to have me spend time establishing a profile, connecting to other users, and inviting my existing colleagues to join in.

I'm not seeing the value proposition at Ecademy just yet. And I find it very irritating that the simple features that a social network might offer me are squirreled away behind the "upgrade now" banner.

Sorry folks, but in the beginning, you need to pay me for the value of my time to establish a profile and bootstrap a social graph mostly from scratch. (You pay me by providing useful and interesting things about which I want to tell my friends.)

For the time being, I'm not recommending Ecademy.