Social Networking – Critical Success Factors

One of my friends recently blogged on how ‘Buzz is losing its Fizz’ (here).  I tend to agree. The number of posts and threads on Buzz has come down dramatically. I think unless ‘Buzz’ undergoes massive restructuring, it may follow the path of Orkut which is losing share to Facebook (FB) by the day, at least in India. Buzz falls short in what I consider are the two critical success factors for virtual social networking platforms.

1. Privacy and Customizable controls: Personally I was not kind to the idea that Buzz selected by default (initially) whom I follow and who follows me. Nor does it provide me any control over who can view the content – and which content – that I post.

Our initial response to social networking was more driven by the novelty value of the virtual networking.  As social networking on the digital world is becoming more and more integral part of our life, we are only beginning to come to terms with the issues that it poses. Increasingly we see the issues of privacy coming to the fore. Of course, as one of my FB friends remarked “The message is clear – don’t send any messages on FB that you’re not prepared to share with the world” after this FB glitch, the user owns the primary responsibility for the content that he/she posts. The corollary is that from the service provider side, the most critical success factor (CSF) then becomes the the range and the efficacy of the privacy and customizable controls it provides.  While Buzz falls short on this score, Google’s original social networking service Orkut does well on this aspect. However, Orkut fares poorly in what I consider the second CSF of virtual social networking platforms.

2. Rich content experience: The second CSF- at least in informal networking sites Orkut and Facebook and may not be that much in professional networks such as Linkedin – would be the richness of the content and experience. Buzz falls short in this aspect too.

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