Brands building their own social nets – surely that is cart before horse?

In his post All Software Should be Social Fred Wilson points to this New York Times article on the future of social networking.

One part of this future is brands building their own social networks.  I can see why this would be a marketeers wet dream but surely it is ass backwards?

Brands take themselves to where people are, not the other way round.

UPDATE:  I just read here that Motorola tried to build a virtual community inside SecondLife and that on a check one afternoon last week there were all of 11 people there.

  • I agree.
    My space made some moves on these paths (with profile like “red”). A very few number of company have the power to create some “metcalfe” but using it is another story.
    Best comment on the subject!

  • I agree.
    My space made some moves on these paths (with profile like “red”). A very few number of company have the power to create some “metcalfe” but using it is another story.
    Best comment on the subject!

  • I disagree – I think there are some exceptions to your last point. I’d argue that GREAT brands attract people; it’s all the rest that are the other way around. What if Apple or 37 Signals created a social network? They have great brands and could attract quite a crowd.

    However, your incredulity at the NYT article is justified. There are too few “great” brands to justify Cisco’s moves in this market.

  • I disagree – I think there are some exceptions to your last point. I’d argue that GREAT brands attract people; it’s all the rest that are the other way around. What if Apple or 37 Signals created a social network? They have great brands and could attract quite a crowd.

    However, your incredulity at the NYT article is justified. There are too few “great” brands to justify Cisco’s moves in this market.

  • nic

    Hi Scott – I’m not so sure that even Apple could sustain a social network. Unless they worked really hard to keep adding content I’m not sure there would be enough there to keep people coming back. Nike’s failure with Joga, the football focused social net is a good lesson.

    I reckon they will give it a go though, so we will probably find out who is right!

  • nic

    Hi Scott – I’m not so sure that even Apple could sustain a social network. Unless they worked really hard to keep adding content I’m not sure there would be enough there to keep people coming back. Nike’s failure with Joga, the football focused social net is a good lesson.

    I reckon they will give it a go though, so we will probably find out who is right!

  • Nike creating a “soccer” social network (it is an American company after all) was an effort that I suspect didn’t play to its strength or core market. There are Nike fans and there are football fans but do they intersect?

    When I said great brands I may have been too general. I think you literally need to have ‘brand fans’ to make something like this work, but Apple fits that category. There’s a crowd that lives and breathes all things Apple and I think they could sustain MyAppleSpace. Definitely a small market though – probably only a few high end fashion and car makers that could do this.

  • Nike creating a “soccer” social network (it is an American company after all) was an effort that I suspect didn’t play to its strength or core market. There are Nike fans and there are football fans but do they intersect?

    When I said great brands I may have been too general. I think you literally need to have ‘brand fans’ to make something like this work, but Apple fits that category. There’s a crowd that lives and breathes all things Apple and I think they could sustain MyAppleSpace. Definitely a small market though – probably only a few high end fashion and car makers that could do this.