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Here is a short interesting article about why many social network projects fail. It boils down to:
1) Lack of focus - Communities need to be designed for a particular group or focus on a type of social interaction.
2) Belief that communities arise spontaneously - They don't. Launching a vibrant community, even a small one, requires a lot of hard work.

The article describes seven key components of successful social network projects identified by Gartner. They are clearly focused on intra-SNSs (social networks within an enterprise), but the advise is largely relevant to any social web project.

Many social software projects fail because IT managers wrongly believe that successful communities form spontaneously after social software tools are installed, according to Gartner Inc. IT and business managers in charge of deploying social software need to choose a core purpose for the community and arrange implementation to achieve that purpose.

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Ah, the good old "build it and they will come" mantra :)
Good points. Begs the question "How and why do social networks succeed?".

Breaking down the formula would be to first look at the "focus" or market niche, then exploring ways to apply the working wheel -as seen in successful social networks. Not being content, you would then attempt to raise the bar, or find a hook, do something that hasn't yet been done, or done that way.

Hmm, just thinking out loud. Thanks for sharing the article...
Begs the question "How and why do social networks succeed?"
I jotted down some of my ideas in this area in this blog post.

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