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The Power of Social Media

Wanting to get feedback on how we solicit & build membership (using Twitter to ID folks, presumably?) but also the pro's/con's of broader (public?) access. Does NING require an invite?

For review & discussion, I'm attaching a spreadsheet I built from looking at Twitter profiles of the heaviest #smchat contributors to date.

What is our stance on membership?

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I think we can make it open and let anybody join, but let's be sure to include some membership questions when they sign up. One could certainly be "What is your username on Twitter?" Perhaps we can ask #smchat what information we should gather. Info from questions can also be used when searching the site, so it could be useful.

Over on http://cuwebd.ning.com there was talking of making membership more restricted do to spam members, but they have several thousand users. On http://pownce2.ning.com I've had to delete 3 accounts that obviously joined just to post their marketing messages. That group is much smaller, but I've kept it open for now.

With this site being new, I think we could start by leaving it open. If we get spammers joining there is also an option to moderate membership. Thus anyone can sign up but their account won't be approved until a moderator says so.
Ning does not require an invite, although you can set up that option.

At MohawksRock.com my largest social network on Ning, we still do not have a huge problem with spammers. They get through some, but not too often.

The best thing to help fight spammers, market-mouths and the like is to really establish up front the purpose for your city and network. Having a defined purpose and guidelines helps people understand what is and is not acceptable and preferred.

Secondly, having a solid core of active members sticking to that goal helps in establishing a pseudo "law of the land". Really think of these things as old wild west towns of America in the 1800s. At first its a group of people gathering for a purpose (gold, trapping, fish, railway station).

As the town grows it establishes an identity based upon the people that live there. Eventually, they may need to vote in a sheriff to keep the town order in place or outlaws will move in and change the course of town mission at its start. Sometimes that is good for the town, sometimes its bad, usually the founders are dismayed that there vision got lost, but people and groups evolve.

On the internet, evolution increases at a much more rampant pace and populations in these cities rooted by ideas and not geography and highly liquid. Moving is simply choosing to direct our attention elsewhere rather than having to pick up and change houses.

Another quick tip is to require a picture upload with membership. Spammers will upload pictures, but usually it makes them that much easier to spot. Besides pictures are an important part of social media. It immediately gives people a sense of your emotion and personality two very important things when establishing new connections. Its one reason why video is blowing up, it transfers even more personality and emotion than a still image.

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