|Launching New Social Network - Help needed! |
Social Network start
Iím new to this forum, so my apologies in advance if I make mistakes or post something totally inappropriate.
My friends and I created a new social network, which we are about to launch very soon. It will be available in 6 languages and host features as unlimited photo upload, instant messenger and host video and audio files. It will be a kind of search engine to connect people by interests.
Now to my problem!
We have made some deals already, that will bring traffic to our site; however it is quite obvious that if the site is empty (maybe 100 users), it will be not very interesting for people to stay on the site and register.
We thought about buying or sharing some photo profile databases and importing them into our system, however for me they seem to be very difficult to get, as many other sites, that have databases, see us more as a threat than as a different product (no dating, forum or voting features on our service).
I would really appreciate any help in finding a related database or a good idea how to fill the database quickly, so that other marketing efforts will be effective.
Main focus will be following countries. Germany, UK, US, France, Italy, Spain, Russia and basically everything that comes along with these languages.
I hope this post will not be left unanswered.
Many thanks in advance
which kind of topic your social network is on?
My advice is that since you are starting this with friends, give them all a minimum number of their friends that they must sign up to the service. Say 20 apiece. Now, if the site has some value, at least some of those people will want to invite their friends, etc. If any of you are in any clubs, etc. etc. then you can share it with those people.
Also, if you see one interest group (like for example Ping Pong) getting popular, visit some ping pong clubs on Yahoo or Google groups, and see if you can entice some people there to join.
It will take a lot of work, you should start with your own friends first.
The topic is activities. People create activities (e.g. watch a movie, play tennis,...) and can then be found and communicate with each other.
We started already inviting our friends, however even with them, I doubt that any other marketing effort will be useless, unless there is a certain amount of people already on the system. Let's say 20,000-100,000 users should do.
But where to get them quickly is another question.
Thanks for the answers so far
There is a site called TagWorld.com which grew to a lot of people. From what I have heard, they basically just started spamming MySpace and Friendster users.
I don't advocate this, but it's one way you can go. There is no way you can get to 20k to 100k people unless it happens organically or you have massive amounts of cash to spend in advertising.
My advice is what I said above, start on a few activities and get those parts going first, and if you have something worth using the rest will come naturally. You don't need a ton of people in a niche activity for it to look populated.
Spamming and even putting up a fake database for a couple of weeks have been discussed. Spamming maybe, fake database we will definitely not do.
Thanks for the info, but the way you describe, is unfortunately a very slow one.
I was opting for a more fast solution. We have someone "sponsoring" us, so cash is not really the problem. Just hate to spend it on, in my eyes, useless advertising campaign if the site is empty.
What if you are just upfront about the fact that the site is new? Don't try to fool people into thinking it is an established site.
The principle is simple. You have to come up with ideas that make your site different to others and unique - otherwise why would anyone sign up with your network? Technical features like video and photo upload etc. is nothing new. People will connect with people not with machines or virtual places especially if they are empty. What's the idea behind your network? What are your values, your principles, how will you attract the attention of your potential users? You say that your users have to 'create activies' like watching movies etc. Why do you think they will do this at your site? Why don't you offer unique food for thought like a special type of movie review, success stories (you could start with your own and the stories of your friends), etc? Anything beyond technical features. You want to start a social network so why not begin with defining words like 'social', 'network', 'friend'? You need a plan that you can follow, otherwise your website will never fill up.
Building on FourDegreez idea - If you have a sponsor, can you offer special deals to "charter members" who sign up while the site is still getting off the ground? Be upfront about it being new, but excited about what you want to offer, so they feel invested in the project and will want to actively help it grow. If your business model doesn't include charging for the service (hence, no "special deals" to offer), there might be some other perks you could come up with for charter members.
--Also, as was said, push what's unique about your site that others don't offer.
I have a few ideas that I have personally seen work in other "new" sites.
If you haven't started a blog, then start one today! The blog posts should read like a development roadmap for the website. It should tell the story from the initial dinner party where the idea was sparked on through the development process and cash injection. The posts should make the reader feel like by participating, they are part of something great, something far greater than web 2.0.
Since you are looking for a quick injection, I would back date the posts. Most blogging software allows you to set a post date when the post is published.
Then after you have approximately 10 - 20 posts; send out a press release announcing the blog and the release date of the site. In this press release you should mention that you are taking applications for "limited" beta users. This will give you a chance to test the system out and get any kinks fixed before going live. Also, the "application only" model gives the users whose application was "accepted" the feeling that they are helping to make something great as well as being the first to play around with this new site.
What you have to remember is that you should post to the blog reguarly to generate loyal readers, this will also give you an indication about how popular the site will be.
Also make sure that before the first "beta account" is set up that you have people using the service. I think someone above mentioned having everyone with a vested interest in the project to invite 20 friends, that would definitely work in this situation.
1. Start a blog about the project.
2. Sign up friends with the site.
3. Populate blog with the project roadmap.
4. Send out press release announcing the blog.
5. Accept "limited" beta users.
I have seen this type of site promotion generate buzz before. Newsvine was started this way, and just about any "new" Google service is hawked this way. That my friend is the Web 2.0 Startup plan.
Please have a killer idea here. Otherwise you are just adding to the noise. I hate to break it to you, but your idea sounds a day late and a dollar short. It sounds like a straight hack of generic social networking with nothing shockingly new.
First of all thank you all for the replies you sent. We are trying now to incorporate some of the ideas that have been mentioned before.
Our site is now on, and I would like to ask you guys to take a first look and I would greatly appreciate any feedback.
Please do be patient with us if some things don't work out the way they should on the site as it is still a beta.
Once again many thanks
[edited by: jatar_k at 3:10 pm (utc) on May 11, 2006]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]