I joined foursquare the other day. Foursquare is a fun, location based social network that allows you to share with your friends what your doing and where you are. It’s a fantastic way to learn about things to do, where to go, what restaurants to visit, etc. Because it’s location based it allows you to grow a knowledge about different cities and locations. I think it has a lot potential. I’m also on Loopt, another location based service, that allows you to find out where your friends are and ping them to connect. I like Loopt. I travel a lot and its cool to see if any of my friends are in the same city as I am. I’m also on Twitter and like to see what my friends are up to. I’d use these type of services more if more of my personal friends were on them.
Social networks that can connect friends and keep them closer have tremendous potential. I really like the idea of applications that allow me to stay connected to my friends. As the responsibility of life takes over, it is harder to stay in touch. Push and passive technologies that can do it for you have tremendous potential. The problem however is your friends have to use them too. Few of mine do.
No matter how cool a social network is, it’s nothing without the social part. To make it, they require a network effect and these network effects can be hard to create. I don’t think there is a magic approach to gaining the network effect Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIN, and Twitter have achieved. But a major part of their success is they just have the network, regardless of the sites features. Just like school we want to hang out with those people we like. We want to hang with our friends and that’s the problem with site like Loopt and foursquare, if your friends aren’t on them there just isn’t that much to do.
I’d like to see location based sites like Loopt and foursquare become more creative in drawing people in. They should consider creating more ways to get my friends in. Loopt might consider looking at my address book when I’m in a new city and prompt me to invite those people who live in that city. They could then send an email invite that says “Did you know Keenan is in Seattle RIGHT NOW, he has invited you to join Loopt. Sign up today and see where he is and what he is doing.” Coming up with ways to help me stay in front of the people I want in my network is the way to go.
New and creative social networks need to get more creative in creating network effect, because without it, the rest just doesn’t matter.