Bringing editorial standards to a community – FridayCities example

I have blogged before that the next generation of social networks will have a purpose – e.g. TrustedPlaces is for people who want to go out to eat, drink and (maybe) be merry.  This contrasts with first gen social nets which are primarily about communication and self expression.

Last week I met with Paul Carr and the team from Fridaycities and left with another vision of how the future might play out in this space.  They only launched the site about month ago so they are much too early stage for us to invest, but I think they are interesting, and here is for why.

As well as there being opportunity for new social networks with a purpose I am now wondering if there is also opportunity for new social networks which are still primarily about communication and self expression, but which have a higher standard of content.

This is the vision of Fridaycities.  The team are journalists by background and they are setting high standards on the site, both in the professional content they post themselves and in the way they moderate UGC.  Check out the site, it is entertaining to read.

It is also useful.  One of the main features on the site is a Yahoo! Answers style play.  The shortage of bike parking spaces outside my office is winding me up at the moment, so I asked the Fridaycities community how I might go about getting some more put in, and I got a number of useful answers pretty quickly – you can see the thread here.

I like the idea of having another go at core social networking, but doing it better.  Fridaycities do this by raising the standard of the content on the site.

I just went back and had a look at my wish list of indicators that a consumer internet service will get to scale – and Fridaycities comes up pretty well, with three of the five bases covered:

  • The early adopters are clearly identified as people who have recently moved to London – they benefit personally from access to useful information and collectively via a sense of community
  • The site has a clear identity and essence
  • The service promotes offline interaction between members

The missing two are about marketing and distribution and they can be added.

I’m not sure about all this though – it would be interesting to hear views on whether driving up the editorial standards on a site is an interesting way of competing with the likes of MySpace.

(As an aside Fridaycities mixes professional and user generated content – getting the boundaries right will be interesting.  Over time they will face competition from below as social networks try and raise their game and from above from newspapers who seek to add discussion and other social elements.  Follow this link for a discussion about Balancing User-Generated Content with Editorial Processes.)