The central premise of this book is how to build “recommender networks“.
“The next great wave of online communities will focus on specific interests such as health, travel, improvement of government services, wealth, beauty, neighbourhood watches, hobbies, protecting one’s estate, and rating the abilities and prices of lawyers, realtors, electricians, hospitals, physicians, judges, school teachers, and vendors of a host of products and services for the home.”
David Silver is a venture capitalist and explains the type of online communities that he would invest in. He then goes on to explain several (18) models. You might think that Facebook already has the social network market cornered, but Silver thinks differently:
“Although the earliest social networks get their launch value by attracting massive memberships, the ones with highest revenues per member, are, at the end of the day, the social networks that have found the empty chairs in the musical chairs game of recommender social networks. It is the best execution of the cleverest business models that will decide the winners.”
This reminds me of the MD community of Sermo that charges sponsors about $100,000 each because it is a gated community for US registered physicians only.
Silver even thinks that recommender communities will one day usurp MySpace, Facebook and other general communities. There are lots of specific tactics in this book so it’s quite appropriate for entrepreneurs. There is not much theory on groups or networks, but lots of anecdotes. For the theory behind social networks, read Connected: the surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives. For me, this is the kind of book to keep handy and refer to with the various communities that I’m engaged in. Who knows, maybe it’s time to start one myself.