Privatizing Social Networks . . . The End of LinkedIn and Facebook as We Know Them?

We took the best from social network sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn and incorporated these features into the new socially interactive IACCM website . . .

So commented Bob Emery, the General Manager, Marketing and Development for the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management “IACCM” during his Webinar tour of the exciting new socially interactive association website.

There are of course many highlights from this morning’s presentation ranging from the more advanced search engine capabilities on the site itself, especially as it relates to the IACCM Executive Library, to interactive discussion forums similar to LinkedIn where members can posts questions or comments etc. and be automatically updated when a response is given.

I also thought that the filtering mechanism through the direct link to Tim Cummins’ Commitment Matters Blog serves as an interesting means of connecting with the outside world while simultaneously ensuring the relevancy of the content that ultimately makes its way into the site.

Specifically, and even though there was no mention in terms of how extraneous and unrelated information will be kept out of the IACCM website’s indigenous forums – a somewhat frequent and annoying challenge in the world of the open social networks, the growing popularity of Cummins’ blog means that a meaningful inside out look into the goings on in the general market is readily accessible to the membership while still maintaining the integrity of content within the site itself.

The flip side of maintaining the integrity of IACCM content, and by integrity I mean the provision of association oriented or relevant information and data, is that the response to the polls (which is another great social network feature) is limited to IACCM membership. The inherent risk that this poses given average poll response percentages in the open world as I will call it, is that the results may reflect a relatively narrow scope in terms of a general or overall industry perspective.

Of course there is a fine line between falling into a wild west realm of voluminous misinformation overload and the maintenance of meaningful data. This is why the emergence of the Private Social Network or PSN as I will call it for those amongst my readers who are acronym fans, is going to be one of the more interesting side stories of the paradigm shift that is the social media revolution.

Referencing my June 4th, 2009 guest panel discussion on the PI Window on Business Show, in which the founder of Ecademy (one of the first, if not the first social network in the world) Penny Power, shared her belief that websites would likely appear within the framework of existing social networks, is today somewhat prophetic. Note; here is the link to the on-demand broadcast of the June 4th segment The Psychology of Social Networking.

Although IACCM is a self-hosted, self-contained social network within the association website, it nonetheless reflects the very same principles to which Power was referring in the earlier interview.

Not surprisingly, this parallel of networking vision tweaked the journalistic inclinations in me, prompting me to ask Emery the following question; “given that statistics show that individuals will tend to become actively involved in 1 and at most 2 social networking sites, is the IACCM site a compliment or threat to LinkedIn and Facebook?”

Of equally minimal surprise was Emery’s somewhat diplomatic response that while IACCM is not looking to replace either of those or for that matter any public social network, if users are only actively involved with 1 or 2 sites, then he wants IACCM to be one of those sites.

Needless to say, as the PSN model evolves over the next 12 to 18 months, it will be interesting to see the fragmentation of the overall market fall into the independent yet somewhat interconnected framework of special or specific interest sites. Depending on the extent to which this occurs, I wonder who will actually be left standing in the public realms of the LinkedIns and Facebooks.

One thing is for sure . . . it will be fun to watch!


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