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It is better
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John Sumser

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Social Software Emerges

(December 18, 2003) -

    Social software needs an "interest space" to be useful.
       -John Robb

The new Monster networking space is open for business. The great news is that Monster has demonstrated the ability to get a new product to market in a very short time. That sort of aggressiveness in product development is a welcome relief to the general plodding of the industry.

The other great news is that Monster continues to be willing to experiment with new ideas in the public market.

It's very clear that social networking, mediated by computers and automation, is going to become a part of the fabric of the Employment industry. Monster wins its usual 'first-to-market' awards with the new offering.

Led by Michael Schutzler, the former CEO of Classmates.com. the new tool is, well, a modestly improved version of Classmates. If you've ever poked around the Classmates site, you'll recall that the basic value proposition is "if you sign up, you might meet someone you used to know". The biological longing to reconnect with old friends converted easily into a high-volume operation. It became increasingly profitable as it became the only game in town.

The value question is significantly less clear in this Version 1.0 of Monster Networking. In fact, it looks to us like the question is still being debated. While Monster Networking V1.0 provides an interesting alternative for collecting resume data, the reasons that someone ought to join and the ways in which the product might be used remain somewhat obscure.

As is usually the case in early technical developments, the "tour" (online brochure) provides insight into the technical functionality of the service. It stays far away from the question "Why should I use it?".

We're not suggesting that everyone who visits the site is a moron. Of course, it's obvious that job hunters want to meet people who have jobs. Early adopters will most certainly include focused third party recruiters who understand the value of a "node" in a target company. What is unclear is why anyone who had something to offer would join the service.

The key to successful network development is commonality in need, interest, goals desire, leisure, family and other non-work, non-academic fronts. This is less true when historical common ground exists (as it does in the Classmates' model). Shared interests create networks that provide access to jobs and other productive engagements.

So, hats-off to Monster for being first. Although the current system is designed to hard sell you after it gets the information it wants (enter your personal information first, pay second, get results (maybe) third), there exists the slim possibility that revenue will flow from the beginning on this venture. There are a lot of desperate IT folks out there right now.

Longer term viability, however, rests on

  •  fixing the value proposition problem,
  • creating value for the kinds of people who paying members need in the network,
  • solving the interface problems with the overall Monster platform (duplication of data entry is a huge issue),
  • adding personalization characteristics in search and individual profiles,
  • adding features and benefits that distinguish the offering.

We'd recommend a more thorough review of Ryze, Plaxo and the other social software tools already in existence.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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