Elizabeth Dunn has an interesting post about how a mid-size nonprofit might make a decision about putting up a profile on a social networking site versus a white label social networking site.
Set up, Maintain, and Build A Community Around a MyFace Profile
- Facebook and MySpace are good for reaching younger supporters
- It’s likely that usage by oldsters will increase over time
- It would be great to reach those younger, tech-savvy audiences we are currently not reaching
- It’s clear that our organization should be fluent in the language, etiquette, and mores of Social Networks
- Let’s consider developing some small, manageable project - suited to our mission, strategic plan, and budget - that might be obtainable by getting started on a big box social network.
Create your own branded Social Network
- A custom social network might fulfill different needs and desires,
such as better branding, more custom features, and improved data
- We could improve our services to our current members
- We could help introduce our more tech-resistant constituents to the
language, etiquette, and mores of social networks by giving them a
safe, familiar place to get started
- Let’s see if building a custom social network fits our mission, our strategic plan, and our budget.
Rich Reader over at NetSquared has some thoughts
Why not roll your own social network, include the OpenSocial API, and have applications, groups, widgets and portals to your site in any number of the “OpenSocial” platforms? Whether an existing member of your organization chooses to participate in any social network or not should not affect your decision to have a presence (group and/or application) in the social-networking space.
A key expressions on the lips of media people today is “create it once, and re-task it to many platforms and purposes”. So, while we can all agree with Ben Rattray about the paucity of tools, features, branding, and data integration in any of the social networks, we should also be considering how these attributes of our sites can be shared to the portals, groups and applications that we install on social networking sites. Ben’s observation that we should avoid letting our “roll-your-owns” become “silos” speaks to the need for openness and cross-network integration.
If we architect our profiles, groups, widgets, and applications to interact with our sites from the outset, then the incremental ROI on maintenance of this overhead will be tremendous.
I'd love to see a logic model for both approaches and then you'd have a way to decide.