Within the past 72 hours 3 major companies have all announced their entry into social networking. On Friday, the Guardian reported on Reuters decision to create a financial MySpace. On Saturday, the New York Times published an article citing Cisco Systems’ intention to acquire Tribe.net. Then yesterday, USA Today unveiled their new website that adds a plethora of social network features.
For 2007, the trend is moving toward more focused social networks. This is in contrast to the broadly targeted sites like MySpace and Facebook. Ning is embracing the concept of niche social networks by enabling users to create smaller networks of people interested in everything from drafting Gore into the 2008 election to fans of American Idol. These niche social networks are able to take full advantage of the long tail of user interests. While I don’t think people will spread their time across hundreds of social networks, I do believe that people will embrace niche social networks. These finely targeted networks will empower their users by connecting them to other individuals with similar interests. In the more broad based social networks, users had to spend their time searching for users with similar interests. It will be interesting to see the large assortment of niche social networks that spring up over the coming months.