Real social networks and where we going wrong
I was thinking in to create this post some months ago, but every time that I start to write it something happens and I need to stop. Lets see if I can complete this mission today :)

In first place what I will explain below may not be appliable to your social network, each niche has its own rules, so if you think that there is something interesting about your public please share in the comments.

I am managing a community for 3 years and I learned much with my users and in a discussion I started to talk about what we may improve and the main answer was be more Facebook or Twitter. In the same moment I said "What?!?". 

This was not the first time that users asked me to make the website more like Facebook or Twitter, but was the first where my members started to agree among them that the website should be more like Facebook or Twitter. I asked them to be more specific, but no one was able to give a good answer. Here i decided to analyse what make others social network be popular even when people are not using them.

I started to analyse different social networks and I found some interesting points. I will not share everyone here because if I do this topic may become huge, but the main point is the simplicity.

Did you noticed that Facebook, Twitter or any other bigger networks doesnt have a section to album, video or music except if this type of content is the central element of the community? Did noticed that most social networks has a really simple layouts with few navigation options?

Social network softwares (like SE) are made to be useful to most different website users, but I learned that this doesnt mean that we need to "display" all features. My users really share images, but there is no necessity of the album section, my users also share videos, but rarely need to go to the video section. So here is the point, sometimes the high number of sections and features give confuses users rather than showing that the site has many options.

So think that is really essencial for your network, sometimes just hide a section that is not used will give to your network a new fresh air that is was needing.
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    PoeticJustice I may do not different when I start out.

    Before I start, branding is literally key to me as I have helped brand clothing labels etc in the past.

    So the name and logo has to be on point. And if I can't obtain ALL the social media handles or .com

    Then I'll scrap the name completely.
    Keeping name below 15 characters is something I aim for to secure a twitter handle.

    Also when building a social network to me I want to build a brand, not a social network.

    I don't want to be referred to as "that social network for cat lovers" "that social network for cake maker" "that social network for type writer collectors"

    I want to be a name.
    So I try to market the social network as an addition to a service.

    And when deciding on features, I work from a white board.... and I roll the features out on stages.

    I would be silly to buy 20 plugins because they sound cool then upload to site, and be like enjoy all these features.... that would be mad of me to do.

    So would plan to release features in stages, so the community is like "dammmm these guys mean it, constantly working and giving us new features" "omg all these new features what could be next" hashtag excited hashtag bossstatus

    Work out your target audience and just hit them, use all big social networks for hashtags and Engadge with the people you want on your site.

    Insterestingly I read the other day

    AirBnB = No Real Estate
    Uber = Has No Cars
    Facebook = Creates no content
    Amazon = Has no stores
    Bitcoin = no currency and no physical coins
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      gs Excellent post - thanks :)

      Yes - getting the TLDs to go with your domain is crucial (well, I have 3 variations on the domain, and then 3 TLDs for each - org/com/net). I did this all before all the new TLDs were released (and I won't be adding dozens of TLDs for my primary domains - at least I don't plan on it). The 15 Chars is important as you mentioned for Twitter (someone already has mine, but now that the site is copyrighted and will soon be trademarked, I should have no problem obtaining it from Twitter). I agree that all the social media handles are important too. Basically, before 'setting up' anything, first see what's available and if one of your business name/domain name options is available everywhere, get it now - it's obviously easier to not renew (or not use page names or handles) than to try to get them form someone else if you don't have them but need them.

      Based on what Mikel and now you have said (well, wrote) I will hold back some of the Plugins/features that are currently implemented, in order to: A) see what interest there may be; and B) if released, then it will look like we're 'adding things'.

      Thanks again.
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    gs Great post and comments by Sieg, Mikel and Donna.

    Yes, I learned this lesson decades ago (but still have to hammer it into my head) when demoing software for clients (which is what converted me from sales into consulting - finding out what's needed first).

    Different content for different niches. Sometimes the answer hurts ('you mean all this time and money I spent isn't what you want??? - oh you're right - I never asked you what you wanted in the first place did I'). But sometimes in an effort to 'cover the bases' we simply add too much that no one (or too few Users) uses (at least not in the way we think).

    Always good to regroup and think/plan our sites better as to what we're trying to accomplish. Are we trying to show what's possible with software or are we trying to honour our Users' interests and grow our community by focusing on something we (and they) are genuinely interested in (and if so, what tools/apps/processes best address these needs).

    This is why I appreciate many of Kyles posts here at SE too - they often bring me back on point when I stray off the beaten path.

    Thanks for posting :)
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    Mikel Coreclark Hello.
    Mikel here. owner of www.majuuna.com
    Please if I may ad something to this discussion. Just 2 real points:
    Like you I did some research of my own a long time ago. I checked facebook and mentally took it apart to see how it works.
    1: Absolutely right, keep your network simple. don't overload it with apps / modules.
    2: Yes facebook is huge with a few members :o) but what I found was that although facebook is simple yet its strength is not the subject matter. The only thing keeping facebook alive is the members. I know that many people leave facebook all the time but many times visit (just like myself) time and again. The reason is although I have left facebook all my friends are still addicted to and use facebook because their friends are on facebook.
    So the hardest job for any new social network is to convince people that you have a community worth joining by attracting members as individuals. What I have just realised is I have to attract groups of people. Groups of friends or people with common interests. The best way to achieve this is to create mini groups, blogs, events, movies reviews, forums and other groups on your network such as photography, sports, cooking, auto. I am soon going to be launching a fresh marketing campaign to attract new members.
    My target to start with will be the obvious, food, drink, cinemas, activities. Targeting these social locations could be a great start.
    I am not going to create flyers, I'm going to get printed napkins, serviettes, as most places serve food and drink it could be a way in as these are placed on tables or on bars and everyone uses them.

    Well enough said.
    Mikel.
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    Donna Great points and things I've also suggested in blogs at ScriptTechs. KISS - Keep It Simple Silly (expression is Stupid but I don't like that word).

    Simple is always better. Too complex and people get too confused and leave. Plus, the more features, the more load. Add what you need and leave the rest off. No need to bulk up with stuff your users don't want and don't use. :)