The new networking SIN - Special Interest Networks
There has been recent decline in the sign up rates for Facebook and other social networks, and I believe this is a sign of people's expanding knowledge and expectation of using social networks. For alot of people, joining a huge entity like Facebook or MySpace is perfect for them - being part something new but still part of the generic social media mainstream. But there is now a trend seeing users wanting more out of a social network - they want to interact with like minded individuals that have specific knowledge about their skills or interests. It may be a specific skills at work, such a network for HR Professionals, or it may be a network for mothers with newborn babies. The main point is that add real specific value to the people in that network, with very relevant information about their subject.
So the SIN has been born - the Special Interest Networks.
Special interest networks are nothing new - take LinkedIn for example - but they are now gathering pace with sites like Gurgle, Flixter, BakeSpace, Recruitingblogs and of course Talent Management Network. The one thing they have in common is their need to be niche - without that their value is minimised. The shifting of social networks is reflecting how we are as people, and by networking on a site that is specific to us, we are solving our needs. We solve the practical need to find out specific information about the interests we have and we solve the emotional need to express ourselves to people that will be interested and will listen.
So for all you optimisers, add another to the list - SEO, SEM, SMO and SIN!!!!!