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making it socially sticky

One of the key characteristics to the success of recent web 2.0 websites has been the ability to get the customers to keep coming back for more by leveraging the desire for people to engage socially with their friends and new people all over the world. As I finish up the consumer site of my start up I've been thinking of ways that I can enhance the social stickiness of my web site beyond the (imo) innovative features that allow that already. In thinking about this problem I've isolated a few points that I see as key goals for any start up wishing to use social stickiness in their business models to employ:

  1. Let your users control who they see and who sees them. This allows the user to limit their access and exert a level of privacy on your system. People hate (at least I do) being immediately available to other users on a social network if they can not control that contact in some way. This also allows users to control their exposure to spam!
  2. Allow users to notify one another of ones actions, Facebook beacon and Myspace action feeds do this, twitter does this implicitly on the site and through RSS feeds...this keeps the user in the social loop of their contacts and more importantly brings them back to the site to provide more eyeballs and keep ad impressions high.
  3. In a world of RSS feeds , email is still the most ubiquitous way to notify users of events on th site so allowing users to control email notification possibly in addition to feeds for appropriate content or features allows even more stickiness to extend to devices that otherwise aren't able to access RSS feeds, like many wireless devices.
  4. Community, this is the general goal, easily stated but difficult to achieve...the social interactions have to foster community between interacting users or give the impression that the users are part of a community. A portal where free interaction between users is encouraged allows this, giving users the ability to make new contacts and have more incentive to stay around. Allowing users to follow memes in real time fosters community interactions that keep the community vibrant.


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