Limits of Branded Social Networks – Blogs

While our product is far more than a branded social network, we realize that unlike many social networks where the company providing it is merely a conduit that doesn’t care what its users say and do, our network will be paid for by political campaigns and organizations who may want to control what goes on in their web space. The problem here is that if an organization begins to noticeably intrude on its social network, censoring posts, comments, and images beyond enforcing decency standards, its users will flee and make their voice heard on unrestricted channels.

In looking at most of the campaign web sites that I see this election cycle, I don’t see much authenticity on major campaign’s web sites. I’d love to see more large campaign blogs actually written by the candidate featuring posts that read like more than just a press release. I have little reason to believe that campaigns will expect anything less from every user of their social network – conversations with nothing but praise for the candidate and their policies, messages, and advertising.

In an ideal world, branded social networks will facilitate open and honest conversations with individuals, people with independent opinions that generally support the group whose network they’ve joined, but may disagree from time to time. Clearly, we need to make it easy to identify and silence people who are only out to harm the brand. We’d also like to make it easy for supporters to make their honest opinions known, but I fear we’ll spend more time building censorship filters for some community features than it takes to build them in the first place. Organizations will be better served if they can look within their own network of supporters to understand where their agenda differs from that of their supporters.

Time will tell. Of course I won’t always be able to be specific in calling out specific examples, but I’ll gladly talk about general errors in this area, praise open conversations, and look forward to building community features that will facilitate these discussions.