Chapter 11. Step Seven: Improve the Community's Benefits (Don't Just Set it and Forget it)

Marketing to the social web is a journey, not a destination. It's a hike, not a camp out. It's a work in progress, not a statue cast in bronze. It's a... but you get the idea. You have to continuously improve the site and its value to the community. If you don't, you're liable to be MySpaced the way Friendster was.

What about Friendster?

Friendster wasn't the first social networking site. Back in the late 1990s, sites like Six Degrees and SocialNet came on the scene—and soon shut down. "We all basically hit the market before the market for social networking," says Reid Hoffman, the founding chief executive of SocialNet and the founder of the LinkedIn social networking site.

But by the time Friendster, founded by Silicon Valley engineer Jonathan Abrams, hit the Web, the market was ready. "Basically, Jonathan wanted to meet girls," Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark J. Pincus told the New York Times. Pincus provided Abrams with some seed money to finance the project at the end of 2002: "He told me himself, he started Friendster as a way to surf through his friends' address books for good-looking girls."

Friendster was up and running in March 2003. Without spending any money on marketing, it attracted three million registered users within six months. The media jumped on the phenomenon: Time, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, U.S. Weekly, Spin, and other publications wrote about Friendster; ...

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