Specialist social networks

Harold Jarche

In contrast to the casual and chatty tone of Facebook, some niche business social networks are starting to mark out their own, but smaller, territory online. These include Sermo for physicians; E-Factor for European entrepreneurs and Emerald InTouch which supports collaboration for researchers subscribing to Emerald’s professional journals.

The Emerald service is built upon Elgg, an open source platform developed and serviced by Curverider of the UK. Emerald has taken the free software construction code of Elgg and created a niche network focused on research, extending Emerald’s basic offering of online journals.

Given the backlash against social networks once they reach a certain level of success, businesses may opt for smaller, controlled and gateways to further online social networking. Since networking has always been an important aspect of business, it’s doubtful that these tools will be ignored by the majority of businesses. The trick will be to remain as open as possible to attract members, allow users to control who and what they connect with and offer a valid business reason to remain a member and invite others.