So you want to learn how to start a social networking website for your niche? You need more than an online forum — you want to build a brand and revenue stream you can sell. You’ve done an informal survey of your friends and they can’t wait to join.
It sounds so simple, but what’s involved? How do you fund it? What software do you use? How do you get the website designed and launched? What do you do about content? How do you build your brand? What’s the best way to expand your membership? When are advertisers interested, and how much will they pay? And where’s the exit?
My fellow SCORE counselors and I often advise entrepreneurs with a burning desire to launch networking sites in their niches. So I went surfing on behalf of these entrepreneurs, past and future.
This is Part 1 in a series of posts on the background of social networking communities, how-to manuals, and lists of these communities. The idea here is to provide links and references with some annotation, to help entrepreneurs explore the issues.
Later posts will cover business models and financing; networking software design and vendors; and blogs and advertising.
Background on Social Networks
The Wikipedia has excellent summary articles on these related topics:
Why not use the experience and advice of others as you plan your website? Here are online publications and books on what’s involved.
The Online Community Cookbook Rich Gordon of the Medill School, Northwestern University and of the Media Management Center, Available to download, chapter by chapter.
“The Cookbook provides a structured approach to understanding online communities and a step-by-step guide to building and sustaining them successfully in local markets.”
“Online communities serve a variety of business goals, such as providing service and support, fostering innovation, and building brand equity.”
Online Community Toolkit Full Circle Associates: Connections for a Changing World, Online and Offline. (A consulting firm.)
“Thinking about building or hosting an online community? Looking for specific tips, tools and ideas? Start here. The following is a collection of articles that may help inform your work. They are all covered by our Creative Commons license which makes the material available with limited restrictions.”
List of Social Network Websites
I found a number of lists (check date of last update) where you can look for competitors in your space. Joining, examining and participating in other sites can give you ideas about both features and problems.
USA Social Networking Rankings Social Networking Watch Blog: Social Networking News and Commentary
Popular Social Networks Social Networking Watch Blog: Social Networking News and Commentary
Did I miss a great reference above? Please let me know by posting a suggestion.
See all 18 Posts in This Series
How to Create a Social Networking Website Series from scratch has 18 posts on various aspects of this topic.