Can you create a social network that generates income?

Online Money

We all know that creating a new social network is no easy task. However it can be done, as we have seen over the past 5 years.

WAYN shared some insights that explained their journey and some of their insights. The world’s largest travel & lifestyle social network with 22 million members exploring the world through their website. It has been said, “Google ad-words work but cost a significant amount of money. WAYN shares some of their success in this regard.

At a time, the site had fewer than 50,000 members. The founders of WAYN discovered that many users were joining but few would take the time to go through the process of manually adding their friends – resulting in a missed opportunity for membership growth and, potentially, a shorter period of activity as users that did not make new connections might drop out.

WAYN created a system where users could automatically send invites to friends in their email address book –a now ubiquitous feature that was virtually non-existent at the time. This led to a massive increase in membership – over one million within six months and continued growth from there, says Ward.

This massive increase got the ball rolling and helped to ensure WAYN has continued survival. The problem then became one of effectively commercialising the network and its user-base. “The networks that succeed are the ones with a clear commercial mind-set,” says Ward. “New start-ups that try to be social and then make money typically don’t survive beyond a point.”

WAYN had an idea for commercial success. As users connected and discovered new places to visit, WAYN could capitalise through the provision of services such as bookings either directly on the site or through tie-in third parties. However, that does not mean it has been a straight road.

“At one point we had a Tinder-sequel service allowing travellers to meet up,” says Ward. “It kept the lights on and allowed us to continue to grow but it wasn’t the nexus of what we wanted.” The network has subsequently redirected back to its core objective – helping people discover where they should go on holiday through social interaction and travel reviews. The next step is taking this data and codifying it to offer better options and a more tailored, personalise experience to users. This includes collecting and mapping data on what activities are good in any particular destination, Ward adds.

“We’re making the user experience more targeted and relevant –and that means we get a higher return on every user experience,” he says. “If we can convert users to discover more or make a booking, it means we’ve done a good job in bringing them what they want.”

The number of social media sites continues to rise. There is no way of knowing what the next big thing is. However, by ensuring a social media site has a commercial objective, a niche area of interest and the determination to succeed on a small budget, a start-up has a chance to succeed.



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