UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 37 February 23, 2006

User Does Not Equal Audience

When over 50% of online content is consumer generated and the fastest growing properties are social networks, how sites and marketers capitalize on this new media opportunity is a very hot issue. Facebook and MySpace are the most important players to watch as the practice evolves.

Why is this different than any other type of advertising? In any media relationship there is a pact between reader and publisher. Traditionally these relationships have been top down. Readers tolerated intrusive advertisements in exchange for free or subsidized content. In social experiences that pact has changed because the users are the content creators. The site does not exist without their enthusiastic participation. As such, the user community becomes a sort of editorial board on one hand, club members on the other. They are the glue that holds these enterprises together. Community owners will have to be very thoughtful about how advertiser partnerships deliver value to the community rather that exploit eyeballs… or stand the risk of abandonment.

Thoughtful social networking sites together with smart advertisers will start to manage the relationship as affinity marketers, carefully selecting and packaging valuable offers that match preferences of the groups they serve. As such, advertising becomes a benefit of participation, reinforcing the value of membership. Tools that enable commerce between members of the community and small local businesses (classifieds, personals, etc…) will also be key.

There is, as always, good commentary on Bubblegeneration on this issue. See this post in particular. My favorite line from the commentary which sums up the issue well: user does not equal audience.

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There have been several owpdrress MU sites that incorporate similar features, as dr mike pointed out in an earlier comment. There have even been a couple sets of plugins specifically made to turn a owpdrress installation into more myspace like look.I think there are a few single instance owpdrresses running with multiple authors and contributors registered, that share similar pages to the ones you described aren't there?I do look forward to more unique blends of owpdrress to shine across the internet for a while to come, it is constantly improving and there are many people using it in many different ways. I can't wait to see what the community creates over the next couple of years, and I am sure you will see many more social networks using owpdrress as a core. We are currently testing an MU based social network (or two ;)I appreciate your points and suggestions for ways to make it function more like a facebook-like social network, I believe your ideas are valid.The comments here have made me think what it would be like to create a custom page theme template (for the about page) that would add the author information into the top of the about page. This would be a simple easy way to get the author info shown, now to just get everyone to fill it all in.As open Id and data portability continue to grow as well, I hope that it becomes easier for internet authors to fill in their info quickly, accurately, and with choice of which information to propagate and share.Social networks and the software that runs them will continue to grow and evolve, and people like you sharing your comments about ways to improve will constantly make it better.

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Yes its true, but users must be grown. in some lithuanian portals we got problem with comments as:
1. users are anonymous and they say whatever they think
2. most comments are useless and some users are unwanted.
i would like to hear some comments about how to manage those unwanter user, because sometimes audince is even better

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look at how slashdot.com handles members and posting. some good ideas for large social network sites

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The key to making this work, in my mind anyway, is to get into people’s heads and understand the different motivations they have for contributing to these sites. Just as I am doing now, what these community owners must do is understand what makes people contribute, and use the benefits they gain from posting to ensure they deliver the best user experience possible.

In response to darius, I would say that many of the better communities tend to police themselves. Once the social network is established a set of rules are formed, and the more responsible ‘community champions’ tend to police people who do not conform to those rules.

A little bit of social psychology and user research could go a long way to helping advertisers understand how they should proceed in this space.

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Damian: I agree with…
“Once the social network is established a set of rules are formed, and the more responsible "community champions" tend to police people who do not conform to those rules.”

...and I’d like to add. Users who contribute are the ones who appreciate and want to add value to the social network they’ve joined. They’ve developed a sense of ownership and would go out of their way to preserve the integrity and value of the site.

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Damian: I agree with…
“Once the social network is established a set of rules are formed, and the more responsible "community champions" tend to police people who do not conform to those rules.”

...and I’d like to add. Users who contribute are the ones who appreciate and want to add value to the social network they’ve joined. They’ve developed a sense of ownership and would go out of their way to preserve the integrity and value of the site.

18
18

The key to making this work, in my mind anyway, is to get into people’s heads and understand the different motivations they have for contributing to these sites. Just as I am doing now, what these community owners must do is understand what makes people contribute, and use the benefits they gain from posting to ensure they deliver the best user experience possible.

In response to darius, I would say that many of the better communities tend to police themselves. Once the social network is established a set of rules are formed, and the more responsible ‘community champions’ tend to police people who do not conform to those rules.

A little bit of social psychology and user research could go a long way to helping advertisers understand how they should proceed in this space.

20
17

look at how slashdot.com handles members and posting. some good ideas for large social network sites

19
22

Yes its true, but users must be grown. in some lithuanian portals we got problem with comments as:
1. users are anonymous and they say whatever they think
2. most comments are useless and some users are unwanted.
i would like to hear some comments about how to manage those unwanter user, because sometimes audince is even better