The social network bandwagon

17 Jun 2013

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog

I think there may something wrong with me. I question why I need a proprietary app on my iPad when I’m just as happy going to visit a website to view content. I’m not even sure what benefits an app has over a good browser view of a website. Is the experience really that much better, or is it just trendy to ‘have an app for that’?

Many apps just don’t ‘cut the mustard’ for me in terms of functionality, speed, design or even greater presentation of content, despite being purpose-written to be ‘better’ than a website experience. Many are just poor cousins of the real thing written by people who think function and features can be compromised for sexy, cool and stylish looks.

Now that we have all been ‘apped out’ it seems that the next wave is for companies to jump on the social network bandwagon, and I’m not talking about ‘groupies’ on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. For whatever reason, management of some big brand names have become convinced that they should start their own specialist social networks to remain attractive to their customers, readers and users.

Give me strength! Just how many social networks do I need to belong to be acceptable socially, or otherwise. What has possessed the venerable Wall Street Journal to plan a launch of a LinkedIn-style social network for its readers? And why would Bloomberg even bother to try and launch one called Current that looks, for all intents and purposes, to be a re-vamp of BusinessWeek‘s ill-fated Business Exchange or BWBX, which the magazine launched years back as an exclusive network for its readers.

Mathew Ingram, writing for PaidContent, asked if “being a WSJ reader is enough of a draw to make such a network succeed? I’m doubtful, but it looks like the newspaper is going to give it a shot anyway. Presumably, it will then use the data that users upload or share to target advertising and other promotional efforts (although advertisers might also be more interested in LinkedIn).”

I agree, and why would I want to be limited to a network of other WSJ readers when I can access the much broader range of people using LinkedIn, etc. if I desire? Is this seen as a protective mechanism to keep people in the fold or a means of making things ‘sticky’ in the face of competition from less-respected but free and open public news services that sally opinion rather than searching out news direct from the source that is written by experienced journalists.

Times might be tough for the likes of WSJ and Bloomberg but they may better off concentrating on what they do best and use existing social networks purely as a means of distributing their valuable product. I, for one, would be happy to pay for access to quality news and NOT be subjected to exposure on yet another ‘unsocial’ network.

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