Some people believe that there is room for only one viable social network at a time. First there was Friendster, then MySpace, and now Facebook. Well, maybe Facebook and Twitter. The fallacy of that argument is that these social networks are too broad. There will always be room for niche players. Even among the art/design community there are a few vibrant economies. DeviantArt has been around a long time and is not going away soon. Niche social networks have an appeal because the members can discuss and go into detailed discussions about their topic in a way that wouldn’t feel inappropriate at a more casual social network say like Facebook.
I’ve lately been a fan of Dribbble, an invite only social network for designers made by designers. The idea is you post small shots, using a tongue in cheek basketball analogy, of what you are working on. Other designers like and critique your work and offer advice on how to improve upon it. I found the community to be very helpful and friendly. But a site like this would have no appeal to the average consumer, a rocket scientist, or a musician.
A general social network like Facebook would not be appropriate place for uber web designers to geek out over every pixel. A social network like this also offers much more targeted advertising opportunities. The best Facebook ads could do for a while was to offer me American Apparel. For all the information Facebook had about me, they still couldn’t show me an ad that truly engaged me. Here’s where a niche social network does better. People who come to that site are already interested in a very specific subject. Products and services that cater to that group of people would do very well.
Obviously networks like Deviantart and Behance will never be the size of Facebook but they don’t have to be nor should they try to be. As long as you can get a critical mass of users, you have something.
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