Dos & Don’ts of starting a social network

I’m probably one of those people who overshares on social media. OK, I’m definitely one of those people who overshares on social media :). So you’d think that when Google Buzz launched, I’d be excited that it already connected me with people and let others view my updates easily. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. To me, Google went a bit too far with Buzz. Email, after all, is a sacred place you don’t want to mess with. At least to me it is… Which got me thinking… What other things would turn me off from participating? What would attract me? If I were to build a social network, here are some dos and don’ts I would follow (many social networks already do these).

The do’s and don’ts of social networks

1. DON’T automatically make me follow people. Give me suggestions if you have insights into my bahaviour, but don’t automatically do it for me.

2. DO link with my other social networks easily. Don’t make me go through a complicated integration or hashtag process. Make it a couple simple clicks to connect me.

3. DO let me easily control my updates for my linked networks. Just because something goes on Twitter, doesn’t mean it should be on Facebook as well.

4. DO let me search information about my friends easily. If someone opened up their information to me, let me search it, not just browse it.

5. DO launch when your infrastructure is stable enough that you won’t crash on me. No fail whales!

6. DO work in all browsers. Feel free to ignore IE6.

7. DON’T confuse me by making ads look like friends’ updates. Not cool. It will make me hate you and the brands that are paying good money to be on your website.

8. DO have a great iPhone app (two thumbs up to how Facebook does theirs).

9. DON’T make your terms and conditions confusing and dodgy. I know that there are always pressures from legal but remember who you’re there for – your users. Make sure users understand what they’re getting into and avoid frustration later.

10. DON’T assume how “private” I will want my information to be but DO give me clear access to changing my preferences.

What else would you add?

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Magda Walczak

Always hungry. Nuts for dogs. Love to travel. I write about marketing, food, web, travel and whatever else strikes my fancy.

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