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Niche communities

February 1st, 2010 / by Eugene Sutula

Pretty often I see people making the same mistake again and again when start a community website. Eventually a lot of people install all plugins they found to be “cool”: blog, chat, groups, forum, video, music, gallery and so on. With addition of a bunch of modifications to expend the functionality. The main problem here is that in this case you will require good hosting from the very beginning.
There is another serious issue here – attention of your users will be spread around the features. People won’t know what to start from and most likely some of community functionality won’t be used at all (but will eat server resources).

Here is an example. You are starting an “art house movies” community. In this case you can install SocialEngine, add plugins like groups (for discussions) and blogs (for movie reviews). Also few mods to improve usability. As an option you can add video plugin to keep movie trailers, but only in case your budget allows good hosting. In addition you can order to build a custom plugin “movies” that will allow admin to add movies and users to rate them.

More than enough for a start. All listed functionality won’t cost much. And you can actually start to work on getting community members (and trying to keep them involved), instead of adding any extra functionality. Your hosting payments won’t be high.

You need to pay attention to what makes your social network different and listen to your users. It’s much better to enhance your specific functionality instead of general. For example, it will make more sense to order a custom recommendation system based on users votes instead of chat.

If you will try to be a second facebook or myspace you will loose. But you can always beat any large network if you will concentrate on a smaller niche.

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