Knitting Up A Storm
At the core of every social network is a common interest of some sort. Facebook is successful because people are interested in the daily occurrences in the lives of their friends and families. Twitter is popular because it caters to your specific interests by allowing you to follow people and brands that you find amusing. As long as there is community, there will be products and technology that target these groups of people.
In the past, people have raised issues with being part of a massive social network, mainly related to privacy. Google+ is attempting to levy some of these concerns with their Circles feature, which enables you to filter the information you share by groups. First we wanted the world, now we want a more private world.
The idea of a closed community based on a single common interest built the framework for social networking site Ravelry. Ravelry is an online community all about knitting. Fans of knitting and crocheting, along with yarn-makers, knitting stores, and clothing designers flood the site. They will never be as big as Facebook, but that isn’t the goal. Keeping the community closed maintains a level of conversation in which every member has an interest in.
Founded in 2007, Ravelry currently has 1.4 million users, and there is still a mass amount of knitting enthusiasts throughout the world that have yet to get on board.
Ravelry users choose a screen name which displays instead of their actual name. The only personal information many users choose to share are their knitting projects. Even with the anonymity factor, trolls are more scarce than on other sites. People take pride in their knitting, and they generally do not want negative comments associated with their work and profile.
Ravelry isn’t the first highly targeted social network by any means, but it is proof that social media is still in its young stage of life. There are many large groups and communities out there that have yet to be tapped into online.
I think exclusive communities are going to be at the forefront of the next social media wave of activity. Facebook, Twitter, and now Google have put everyone in one place. It will be tough for a startup to dethrone any of these companies without a ton of cash and manpower. The next move for startups will be to find a unique niche in the market and build around them. This has begun to happen over the past several years and will continue to do so.