While many organizations are setting up Facebook and MySpace pages, such social networking sites pose a number of challenges for you. First, if you read the fine print, such services will often claim that they can use your materials for any reason you wish. You may not want that.
Second, your purpose may not lend itself well to the “openness” of Facebook or MySpace. For example, if you want a social network for your donors, or a particular customer segment, how would you manage who can join your network, given that anyone in the world can be a member of Facebook or MySpace?
Third, you may want to customize your own social network in ways that Facebook et al do not allow.
So, what’s the alternative?
Well… build your own.
I have created a sample of what you can do using ning.com as the social network platform. I did this at no cost, though as you will see the free version includes some advertising along the right hand side of the network page. However you can get rid of the advertising for a very low monthly fee.
I encourage you to check out the SAMPLE I have created to get a good idea about what you can do. Click on all the menu items. And join it so you can see what the membership process is like.
The network I created is called Collaborate for Success and who knows, if you like what you see and join, we might just move it from a sample site to a real social network!