Any one in the Web 2.0 space knows that MySpace is the bewilderingly ugly site that gets more traffic and press coverage than any other site out there with the exception of YouTube, though they are often mentioned in the same sentence. 100 million pages and $580m purchase by a second-tier internet (and first-tier media conglomerate) player set the tone for every other Web 2.0 company out there.
Most people would agree that the deal was a one time phenomenon, but the same can be said of Yahoo!’s orginal IPO, before Google came on the scene. I’m seeing a trend in Web 2.0 portal companies that are targeting various vertical niches, now that the broad “teen” category has been completely conquered by MySpace.
The shorthand for this is “MySpace for X”. The best examples I’ve seen are social networking sites targeting mothers (MomSpace if you will) like www.minti.com, www.clubmom.com (a Web 1.0 rebrand), www.mommybuzz.com, www.mayasmom.com and my Houston hometown favorite, the pre-lauch www.opmom.com. They all have several features in common, but each has their own ‘voice’, much like certain department stores sell the same items, but you feel differently when you go to one over the other.
I think that the vertical niche social network is here to stay, but not strictly as a stand alone sites. Based on people’s differing interests and self-identities, coupled with RSS feeds and widgets more social networks will be portable to other aggregation-based homepages. This is not a bad thing but it means that these niche communities have to stay relevant through personal engagement, not site “bling”.