Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some more thoughts about Sagazone

My previous posting about social networking generated a comment that I thought it worth exploring since it raises some interesting points.

Point 1. I am researching social networking for older people and it would be in the interests of my commission to find the Facebook forum exactly where you said it should be.

Why did Age Concern's Heyday fail – other than incompetent management? Why did burn through more VC funding than any other social networking start-up for older people?

Answer, they thought older people want to talk to older people about older people stuff.

Sure, some do, but most people want to converse about their passions, interests, concerns, visions… with people who have the same passions, interests, concerns, visions…. Now it maybe because of the topics the audience happens to be old, but that is a secondary factor.

It is like when I get asked, and believe me I get asked it a lot, what sites do older people use? Because older people consume a lot of news, they happen to use the BBC site in their droves, but that is because they are interested in news not because of their age.

Point 2. The data does not agree.

You make some good points about the very heavy users. But your statement that the forum shows posts weeks old seems odd. 

I used a screen grab for presentation purposes a few days ago and not one forum showed posts over 22 hours old and every other thread was active within a couple of hours and seconds before. This was taken on a weekday, as well.

OK, there are some forums that have active threads (The debate zone) but an awful lot are as dead as the Dodo. See screen scrapes. You have to be careful when interpreting the frequency of forum use since the top level shows the most active forum in the tree  – you have to go to the next level and look at the detailed subject forums to understand the range of their activity.

 3. The sphere of your interest, though, might limit what we might usefully discuss. Our interest is social connection and the potential for relating online to actual networks of connection. It is a social more than a commercial interest. And in our view Forums have little potential for marketing interests anyway.

What I would be interested in discussing is if you think that the obviously slow progress of their network is in any way linked to the fact that this is a network based upon a commercial website, albeit a very good one.

See my answer to the first point. The reason for the slow uptake is because older people don’t like age ghettos. In my experience the majority of older people don’t. Secondly, only a certain type of person are real users of forums/social networking, as my analysis showed. Hence the unbelievably high levels of posting of a small percent of the users.   This is a subject that has been researched to death. There has been a major EU funded study about using social networking for older people. I cannot believe there is much more to learn about the subject.

OK, that does it on this subject. I am happy to converse more but please do it via e-mail.

I am much more interested in why two of my friends have found that Facebook is the cheapest marketing technique for generating interest from the 60+. Dick Stroud

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