For big media companies, social networks are like lawyers. Everybody has one. The newest company to release a dedicated social network into beta is Yahoo. It's interesting to note that Yahoo has had all of the pieces of a truly engaging social network platform for as long as I can remember. Message boards, Answers, Flickr, MyYahoo!, etc. all operated independently of each other in the past. Yahoo has recently made moves to consolidate properties and is leveraging it's Yahoo ID system as a single sign-on for all of the sites.
Mash is still in beta. That being said, it has a way to go to catch up to the interactivity and personalization of MySpace and Facebook. This beta is hard to personalize, doesn't pull in RSS feeds with consistency and has few plugins from developers (because it is in beta). I would love to see Yahoo use some of it's own UI tools to make the experience better all around. Right now it appears very stripped down way (not in a good, Facebook-esque way).
Yahoo's long-term property acquisition and convergence strategy should help this network gain traction. They will need to determine what a user's forward facing presence is in the system and then let people build on that. For example, I have a Mash profile, MyYahoo profile, Flickr Profile, etc. That's too many for one entity and I could see Mash serving as a mid-range solution for doing some consolidation to make user's lives easier.
Check out my First//Look at the Mash beta:
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- Enable people to do cool stuff and get out of their way!
- Find out where your target audience is and focus there (Facebook, MySpace, Mash, etc.) - don't get sucked in to the hype of one network over another
- Try to add value to each and every interaction
- Personalization is key. Let people feel like they own the space and make doing this as easy as possible
- Leverage user generated content sources within the partner network to add more value (something that Yahoo/Google are better positioned to offer vs. Facebook and to some extent MySpace)
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