Segmenting social networks for business

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I came across an interesting set of slides today from Erik Herschkorn looking at social networks and business. There is a lot written about this at the moment and often the same ground is covered by all people. What I liked about this presentation is that it suggests some ways to segment the different social networks, specifically from a business perspective.

The presentation is in French so a summary of some of the interesting points below.

  • You are the centre of your world; social networks are the centre of the online world. Slides 7 and 14 show how in the real world the individual is at the centre – probably linked to their family, friends, work colleagues etc – and social networks are the centre of the online world – connected to your profile, friends, applications and other sites. This approach mirrors our understanding at FreshNetworks that social networks centre on the individual.
  • Distinguish between networks depending on openness. Slide 11 shows one of the segmentations of social networks proposed. The critical axis here shows how social networks such as Facebook rely on real identities, whereas YouTube allows fake identities to be created. This distinction means that the sites are suited to very different purposes. YouTube is more about the content than the people – the social networks are about individuals and so identity is important.
  • B2B or B2C; leisure or professional. The segmentation on slide 12 is perhaps the most developed, this shows how you need to distinguish between social networks that are aimed at the consumer and those aimed at business. At the same time you must distinguish between professional networks, and leisure networks. Looking at the various social networks in this way helps understand which is appropriate in different circumstances; it also shows how complex and diverse social networks are.

As with any segmentation, these are most useful to help start a discussion about social networks, rather than being a real and true segmentation of networks. I think it is interesting to consider how complex the social network market is. How different some are and why the way you use them must reflect these complexities.

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