Getting Social Platforms Right

Since I’m a platform guy by background, I’ve been very interested in how social infrastructure, i.e., social platforms such as Facebook’s F8, Bebo’s clone, Google’s OpenSocial and MySpace’s recently launched developer platform, is going to evolve. Some recent good reading on the subject comes from Max Levchin who as founder/CEO of Slide knows a thing or two about this.

Max’s first post covers the launching of a social developer platform with ten common-sense rules. (My only question is: why always ten rules?) Two key takeaways:

  • A platform will only succeed if it makes its developers successful. I wholeheartedly agree and hence my Ecosystem Test.
  • Be humble, open and embracing of the developer community. That’s how we built the developer community at Allaire. It was and still is, one of ColdFusion‘s greatest assets to this day.

The second post, really an essay, goes deeper into developer incentives in social networking platforms starting with the hypothesis that “designing a social platform is in some ways similar to designing a competitive multi-player game.” Max offers a Darwinistic/behavioral view of ecosystem management which makes sense in a social environment where multiple developers/apps compete for the attention of consumers.

Perhaps because of the Slide perspective, the incentive analysis is primarily focused on valuable distribution.

It’s worth pointing out that ultimately, until non-advertising business models are devised for social applications (and probably even after they are) valuable distribution (reach + frequency) is going to be the main underlying goal for all developers, commercial and otherwise.

My take is that non-advertising business models are just around the corner. The key is social advertising/social commerce where one is leveraging the distribution power of millions of consumers. There the developer controls a social platform puts in place are somewhat less important.

About Simeon Simeonov

Entrepreneur. Investor. Trusted advisor.
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