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  • 20 September, 2011

    5 rules for creating a successful social network

    The recent June 2011 launches of Google +1 as an invite-only network have been scrapped and Google +1 has officially opened its doors to the world. This is likely to be the most effective way of getting as many people as humanly possible joining up to the network. Learning from the mistakes of other social networking sites, Google + 1 has overcome the important hurdle of a new social network - access. Bloggers, people, casual social network users all share a common need - a social network that is not too complicated to use or access. We can break it down into the 5 essential rules I have learned in creating a successful social network. These rules have come about through using social networks as a blogger, a marketer and a "normal" person:

    1. Access.
    If your social network requires a new user to jump through too many bureaucratic hoops to join up, they simply won't join up. Game over.

    2. Flexibility. 
    If your social network has complicated, rigid rules for how the network must be used, it will frustrate new users and they will go somewhere else. Game over.

    3. Privacy. 
    This is Facebook's main sticking point. Many are aware that Facebook can use members' information for pretty much whatever they deem appropriate. This is why many are leaving Facebook in droves. A social network should not invade a users privacy or try to "profile" users. It is not a social network's right to "own" people's personal information. If Facebook is to fail over the next 5 years, this may well be the reason.

    4. Ease of Use. 
    Twitter has this part down to a fine art. Make your social network easy to use, fun and interactive. If you build it, they will come.

    5. Involving Lawyers and Government. 
    This is the death knell for any social network, no matter how big. There is some talk of Facebook enacting laws that will prosecute affiliates for sending out any type of "commercial" messages - you would need to read the Facebook Terms of Service to fully understand this issue, and to read the TOS, you may need to set aside a half-day. If any website owner, affiliate, blogger or user is confronted with the words "prosecute", "violate" or "illegal" in relation to their daily activities, they will close their accounts, just to be sure. If Facebook moves in this direction, it will be game over for all but the most dedicated Facebook die hards.

    Should Google + 1 learn from the mistakes of other failed (and successful) social networks, it may well become a contender. If Google keeps it simple and doesn't try to play Big Brother on its users, the road looks sunny ahead for Google as a versatile and dynamic brand.