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November 17, 2009

The Hidden Cost of Social Sites

I'm at Web 2.0 Expo NYC listening to Ron Surfield (Turner Broadcasting) talking about the experience of building social media for businesses.

Social sites are defined as those including content created by users. Includes things like comments, submissions, ratings, etc.

Why do people do it? Common belief is that it's free, meaningful content, which will attract more users. It will increase user engagement, CPM, ads revenue, etc.

Is it really free? What are the costs? How can we minimize the cost? Are there revenue streams from this?

Hidden costs:
- dealing with spam & profanity filtering
- moderation requires full-time person (irrelevant, flaming)
- hardware (storage space, application/email/search servers, network bandwidth)
- video is expensive, use CDN and know the costs up front

Moderators shouldn't be high school interns, they need to have some editorial skills.

Editorial direction:
- who's voice does the site represent
- how do you retain the unique character of your site

Site analytics:
- monitor the patterns on the site and determine where to focus
- some content will influence the site and revenue differently (ads)
- don't spend time on lightly-used content

Need to add better engagement with users, including post/comment confirmations, RSS feeds,

Also need to shorten the feedback loop, quickly get back. Editorial staff needs to see and respond quickly, site operations need to be able to handle issues quickly.

You have to be careful about the customers who are too vocal and can steer you in ways that don't really represent the larger community.

Posted by mike at November 17, 2009 9:00 AM