While it may be great to build a diverse presence across multiple social networks, one thing they all share in common is their algorithmic boundaries, and the fact that SEO’s, marketers, and people alike are stuck under the constraints of what those networks have to offer in terms of functionality. On the other hand, if it’s true diversity you seek in your social media marketing efforts, then why not create your own social network that is directly tailored to your brand? This does away with much of those pesky algorithms, and offers you the ability to add the features you want, and ditch the ones you don’t need.
Today there’s plenty of software programs available for quickly creating your own customized social networks, such as with Social Engine, a platform dedicated to making and managing fully customized social networks, you can check them out here. Not only does this platform offer a PHP ready software package, but also has cloud hosting services as well. It also integrates well with existing social media platforms, and users can login from their social profiles of choice. Of the few programs I found, Social Engine had the most information available, so it was worth mentioning.
The customization of your social network to reflect your brand can really help to build a stronger and more dedicated audience. For one, having channels on existing social media platforms is great, but those networks are also diluted with everyone else’s content. And what about all the missing features you wish you had on your current networks? What if you could add those ideas in somewhere? I’m sure I could think of a million things I would love to change or add to on Google+ for instance.
Another added benefit to producing your own social networks based around your subject matter is that those networks are a lot more portable than the channels you control on your existing social platforms. You can easily tie your new social properties to domains, making them a better prospect to gain value vs. social properties you control on someone else’s network. I’ve talked about the idea of buying and selling social properties, and how they affect the value of a domain, you can read that article here: Google+ and The Birth of The Social Media Broker.
It's long been part of my plans to build engaging social properties and tie them to corresponding websites, which later could be sold to the industries they’re tailored too. That’s much of what the article I just mentioned above is about. It’s also another reason why creating customized social networks may not only prove to be valuable in whatever business interests you implement their use with, but also hold value as a property themselves. Think of it this way, a website with a huge social presence is likely going to be worth a lot more when it comes to auction time than a site with no social following at all. Add in a good record of search engine traffic and you have effectively given buyers more reasons than one to make a higher bid on your domain.
A stronger social following means more visibility across the web and more marketability when it comes time to generating a profit, what every investor is looking for! And, even small businesses can benefit from having their own social properties that are directly tailored to their business model. Fortunately very few existing entities on the web have taken this approach to social media marketing, so it’s an area that’s still waiting to be explored. Many would also argue here that it’s too competitive of a market for any new social networks to be created today. This simply isn’t true, at least not in the case of building interest based social communities that revolve around a single subject. In this case owning the network itself may prove to be worthwhile.
Many brands today have now shifted away from the traditional social media marketing practice of static advertising and moved closer to the world of content marketing and social interaction, where content drives engagement, and the engagement drives sales. That being said, there will always be a need for new avenues of social interaction in order to stay competitive on the web, and having a social network that represents your brand directly may help to keep your organization’s head above the water over its competitors.
Marketers already know how hard it is to build successful social channels with large followings. If it can be done on existing social networks, it can be done on personal networks as well. Being as this area of social media marketing hasn’t been tapped into much yet, it will be interesting to see the results if bigger brands ever decide to jump onboard. I plan on eventually trying this method of building social properties myself, and hope to write follow-ups on the results as the social properties progress.