Critical Success Factors of A Social Network

Alan BelniakSocial Media, technology1 Comment

In the Spring of 2009, I wrapped up my graduate degree in part by completing an independent research assignment.  I tasked myself with understanding what made certain social networks succeed, and understanding why some failed.  I hypothesized that if I examined a few in each category, I could see some common threads, and distill out a loose framework.  So, I did just that.  From there, I applied that framework to a social network (not in the traditional sense) that I like to see if it succeeds, by my criteria.

A portion of the executive summary is below.

A review of select social networks that are effective and those that are defunct permitted a distillation of macro‐level lessons for other social networks. Codifying these lessons into an effective practices and potential inhibitors list creates a framework that other future social networks can consider during the construction phase. That framework, as well as subject matter expertise from the author, was applied to the BeerAdvocate.com social network to determine its “social network effectiveness”.

The result of the evaluation indicates that BeerAdvocate is indeed a successful social network; it follows many of the suggested practices and avoids many of the potential inhibitors. To extend the discussion of the “network” concept, BeerAdvocate’s current ecosystem partners are listed, suggesting that joint value is created when the positive network is broad and deep.

Furthermore, a suggestion of other ecosystem participants is listed. It is noted that not all of these participants are true partners, since joint value creation would not result from the introductions of some of these participants. However, many of the suggested participants listed would indeed further the depth and breadth of the BeerAdvocate network (since many listed are positive), resulting in joint‐value creation.

Also included in the analysis and the report is a list of “Do” and “Do not do” items, both byproducts of the framework I created for the analysis.  These checklists provide a lens through which a social network can be evaluated in situ or prior to launch as one way of helping determine success.

The full paper is embedded below and available over at Scribd for download (titled “Critical Success Factors of A Social Network”).  I welcome any comments, criticisms, or questions.

Critical Success Factors of A Social Network


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