Thursday, June 21, 2012

Menshn: Twitter gets a political copycat

It was interesting to see negative reactions to Menshn, twitter-like political social network.  It was founded by Louise Mensch, British conservative member of Parliament, and Luke Bozier.  The site went live first in U.S., and is launched with ambition of creating open dialogue platform for U.S. presidential political discussions.

After reading sharply negative post about Menshn on Gigaom (here's another critical review of Menshn), I decided to take a look around myself.

Brits are setting up U.S. politics discussion platform.
In order to become viable, I see lot of challenges ahead, though.

It is true that Menshn is a brand-new service, and has rough edges on its user experience.  Especially registration and onboarding could have been smoother.  It felt that launch was somewhat hastefully put together.  At the least I would think that signing on with Facebook and Twitter account and using existing social graph to do word-of-mouth marketing will be there.  There are other well-known practices that Menshn could have followed when launching a new service.

Launching a new social network is a tricky task.  It's because by definition social network's utility depends on active users who are creating content to be shared.  When you are starting a new social network, you don't have either.  That typically means you need to figure out a way to create and feed content somehow or provide other values for users to build that initial critical mass.

It is not an easy task.  That why Google+ had coordinated launch.  Starting with closed beta including high-tech industry influencers, Google+ had controlled rollout using invitation method.  That's because of the importance of content and social connections with people who are already on the social network.  By controlling its launch, Google+ was able to ensure newly joined people had interesting set of content already available in the system, which drove initial user adoption.

Although Menshn missed a several steps while launching, I see possibility of twitter-like services starting up.  One example is StockTwits.  StockTwits first started out as Twitter account generating stock tweets within Twitter, but soon created its own network where people can join and talk exclusively about stocks.

Let's see whether Menshn can quickly learn from initial mistakes.  After all start-up's success depends on how quickly it can learn and adopt to user feedback.  And it seems there are plenty for them to absorb on the web.

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