Debate: Create your own social network or leverage existing…

My friend Karna Crawford pointed me to this article talking about the benefits of creating your own social network.  I couldn’t disagree more, and said so with this comment:

I very much disagree with this approach.  There are ways of gathering data without having to create a new social network for people to join.  Asking people to join yet another network isn’t the answer.

You can leverage networks like Facebook to gather data on your users and build your CRM database.  You don’t need your own social network to do that.

And yes, Facebook may go away one day whereas technically a brand’s social network could live forever.  But if no one is going to your branded social network, what does it matter?

Seek out your customers in the places they are comfortable and find unique ways to engage with them.  Don’t try to force your objectives on them, it won’t work.

I’m surprised people are still saying that you need your own social network but its possible I may be in the minority here.

Let’s debate!


  1. Scott on April 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Depends on if your audience is on the conventional networks. For B2B and in many cases, a branded network is the only way to actually reach your target customer.

  2. KarnaCrawford on April 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Jeff, overall I agree with you. The only caveat I would add is how your opinion might change when factoring in the integration of CRM tools and dBs like, Leads 360, etc. into the community experiences. Can that be seamlessly tied when leveraging another social network like Facebook or Linked In as your social community…or, at that point do you have to overlay some “custom designed” brand owned community to be able to make that work?

  3. Jeff Hilimire on April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Perhaps but I also think that's a crutch in the B2B space. For instance, almost nothing innovative is being done in LinkedIn which is a massive opportunity for B2B marketers.

  4. Jeff Hilimire on April 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    The new advances that Facebook is making by spreading the social experience throughout the web will help with efforts like these. So you won't require someone to join a new social network, but rather you can leverage the network their on by pulling that experience into your site, at which point you can integrate any other technology.

  5. KarnaCrawford on May 1, 2010 at 12:54 am

    So…caveat. Mothig innvative is happening in LI because they don't aloe marketers to step out and do much. They just don't have a lot of opportunity. I think it is going to be their downfall.

  6. Joe Hamm (@brohamm) on May 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    C'mon people! The white labeled social network is dead! Yeah, I know folks are still using them and some are event still building new ones….and yes, I'm sure there are some special cases in which it makes sense. However, I wouldn't want to be a company that is banking its business model on providing private social networks. Bad move!

    Facebook's Open Graph project is the final nail in the coffin for private social networks. Why invent your own community when you can access data on your supporters through Facebook integration?

    And I'm speaking as someone who knows this industry. As VP of Marketing & Business Development at Mobilization Labs, we've been providing white label social networks through our Wildfire Platform. However, we're breaking down the walls of the community and allowing an organizations to engage their supporter community anywhere across the web. Technology companies have to remain innovative enough to keep up with the changing technology demands of their clients as the social web evolves. Keep an eye out for the new release in June;)

  7. Interiorpassion on July 7, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I couldn't agree more. Why create more work for yourself unless you have the time, leverage and money to do so. In short, a new creative idea may be worth the investment – other than that there are many social networks that will bring you a lot of business and connections if one takes the time to study other successful net-workers.

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