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Building A Social Network In A Facebook And Twitter World

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Geoff Cook is the CEO of myYearbook, a social network built around meeting new people. He also founded EssayEdge and ResumeEdge and sold them to The Thomson Corporation.

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20 Responses to “Building A Social Network In A Facebook And Twitter World”

  1. Dude, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Facebook’s success has nothing to do with Streams. It became successful because of Farmville. It opened up it’s platform and got a great game built there and everyone loved it and it went viral. Without Farmville, facebook would have never grown. Because social networking in and of itself (without games, etc) is boring as hell.

    I’m a developer and streaming is one thing. Web pages another. Facebook made very easy to use web pages that let people create profiles and upload photos and talk to each other. Nothing innovative here at all. But getting the people – that’s the hard part. And now that they have 500 million people AND games, it’s going to be very very hard for any new site to get people to join their stupid social network that has nothing to do once you join.

  2. I would be interested in finding out how MyYearbook approached distribution to get traction early on. The biggest challenge for any new social network will always be how to get users in the first place and then how to keep them – especially given how deep rooted the likes of Facebook and Twitter are.

    This is not to say that it is not possible, it’s just that I think it would take a very compelling case – much more than flirting and meeting people I think. That’s why I’m curious as to how MyYearbook did it. By the way, I quite like the concept behind and I think it is a better example of how it is still possible to find a unique and compelling concept to build a social network around.

  3. Geoff

    Thanks for sharing your thinking.

    I agree. Different social formats engender different responses and have unique values of their own.

    Facebook is great for sharing amongst people you already know but very poor at extending your personal networks with meaning as it is not the place for conversations. The infrastructure itself is limiting.

    Dynamic blog communities connected by Disqus, are perfect extenders. They build unique conversations and connect networks and create new friendships.

    I’m with you that niche networks have great value and that connection threads like Disqus and others will weave these hubs together. At the end of the day, the centers will be our own URLs, our own blogs which are really niche communities themselves.

    This is a topic close to my interests and I blog on it @

    Take a look at


  4. How can anyone call this a pitch for MyYearbook, unless you are specifically interested in meeting new people (in what is clearly a more personal/non-professional way) and flirting????? Okay, in that case it’s a minor pitch, but then you may as well call it a pitch for Twitter (the author calls it his morning newsppaer) and Facebook as well (in its comments as to Facebook’s near-term online media dominance a la 1950s-1970s television).

  5. Kind of the funny thing is that as I was wondering about MyYearbook, not really having looked into it before, now that this article spells out the attraction I know it’s not for me! But that’s cool because I’ll waste no time and as the author says, and I agree, the future will be in differentiated streams.

  6. I agree. This started off good, but then turned into a pitch for MyYearbook. I did click over though to check it out and I’m sorry, but I was immediately reminded of MySpace.

    Part of MySpace’s decline was allowing users to customize their own themes. It sounds great, but the reality is (IMO) is that it just leads to a aesthetic nightmare. Dark, busy backgrounds with text laid on top. Most people don’t know enough about graphic design to create a user-friendly page. MyYearbook appears to be making the same mistake. I’m sorry but I feel the lack of standardized themes yields cluttered profiles pages, which result in cheap looking community.

    I feel like this site sets SM back to pre-Facebook style development. Yes, there’s a different functionality and purpose, but the overall presentation is just too busy. If this is the direction that new social media platforms are pursuing, then would venture to guess that Facebook and Twitter will be around a lot longer than expected.

    This article makes some good points. Many of which I agree with. Unfortunately, the MyYearbook seems to fail on so many levels – IMO.

  7. I agree Twitter and Facebook will not be around in a few years as the dominant players. Google Wave works best for conversationalists where groups wish to chat in real time minus all the intrusions that Twitter and Facebook either come with, or in Facebook’s case they don’t offer real conversations.

    The main issue here is the stream and the volume in the stream. Advertising revenue models really don’t work because good luck getting your Ad seen if every time someone logs in there are hundreds of posts they haven’t read. So really these companies should be selling their technology, charging subscriptions or building infrastructure for others. Trying to pimp out people’s private content blatantly like Facebook is not on;y bad for business but also creates a backlash, such as the minute there is a better service people like me will be screaming at every person in our network to move just out of spite for evil people like Mark Zuckerberg.

  8. This is a well written post but I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions. One of the main utilities of a social network is the ability to share your thoughts/content with people you care about. The problem with niche social networks is that they are worthless if all your peeps are still over on FB- you literally have to drag them over to sign up on the niche site, and many of your friends won’t do it. A perfect example is with travel-focused social networks. I have had many friends take off on a year-long journey, posting stories/photos on a niche travel site, only to abandon it after 2 or 3 months because all of their friends were still on FB and not seeing any of the postings. It is hard to fight that kind of momentum and most people bail on the niche sites after a couple months because it isn’t worth trying to maintain multiple profiles and herd your friends onto multiple niche sites…

  9. Thanks for a very enlightening post. Interesting possibilities as to where Social Media moves to next. It reinforces the point that Social Media has already morphed into some way beyond “media”. It has become the 5th “P” in the marketing mix. PEOPLE. Right up there with the other basics of Product,Price,Place and Promotion. A people strategy must be an integral part of the marketing plan of any business…and, as you point out, we are just at the beginning stages of its development.


  10. Nice article and some very good points. You piqued my interest about My Yearbook and I clicked over to check it out. Honestly, I have to say that I was immediately turned off – but clearly because I’m not your target demographic. I like what you have to say about meeting new people and connecting with others. The Chatter stream is interesting and seems much more user friendly than Twitter. However, I’m not interested in Flirting or having romantic encounters. What I would like to see is a combination of the Twitter stream for Business in a more intuitive environment like Facebook. Perhaps you can create “My Briefcase” for the business set!

  11. — I’d add another way they could fail — if they don’t monetize well. We spent most of 2009 getting the monetization engine right (making virtual currency 33% of revenue, up from 0% in July 2008) and we’ll be spending most of 2010 building the top of the funnel and growing audience. That’s often considered the backwards way of doing it versus just raise a boatload of money and hope it all works out :-)

    @Ed Dunn — Thanks very much!

    @jensbest — Agreed Foursquare is exciting, but I’d be worried about Facebook and Twitter eating Foursquare’s lunch. While I tend to think that the streams that will win will be differentiated (and Foursquare is today), I also think if your stream is enhanced by the real world social graph you may end up having your lunch eaten by Facebook — location seems to me to be the type of info that you might tend to exclusively publish to your real world friends. Flirting and meeting new people, on the other hand, is something most people would look socially awkward doing in the Facebook stream, creating an opportunity.

  12. good text. inspiring. just thinking of foursquare as a company taking care of the qualified information taken out of the stream of being on the road, eating, drinking, buying, being in other places than home.

  13. Please bring more startup CEOs like Geoff to the table – they obviously know what they talking about.

    The stream pipeline is loss in the narrative simply because writers do not understand it and when they do understand, they fear it.

    Facebook and Twitter created a diverse stream of social blathering and social activities and with a little data mining and business intelligence skills, smart people can learn to extract, niche and monetize on this ongoing stream of information such as MyYearBook is obviously doing.

    Writers still really want to believe they can type up something creative and get an audience to pay for it, even if they throw up a paywall. They do not understand that these streams are a living information entity that can shape, touch, and transfer among people in real time – something that a newspaper can never do.

    What Geoff explained is the huge opportunity for people out there to understand that many executives don’t understand or in denial and don’t want to accept how the “stream” is probably the most disruptive information dissemination to mass media as we know it.