According to this article in the Wharton School’s Knowledge@Wharton periodical, it’s crowded enough to need some consolidation. The specific spaces such as Martindale Hubbell Connected or Legal OnRamp may not be at risk (yet?), but the large networks are certainly encroaching on each other in a way that suggests that some may need to merge in order to preserve their feature development, community density and critical mass. Whether the business model is advertising to eyeballs or transmutation to a paid membership, the larger the number, the greater the revenue potential.
One such example, for me, is LinkedIn.com and its ilk. Naymz.com and Plaxo.com are two places for professional and contact data where I have profiles, but for which I am only intermittently attentive. I get occasional messages from each, folks looking at my profile or looking to make a connection, but I do not employ either for that purpose. Naymz.com messages me that my profile has been viewed, but then requires a paid membership for me to access any information on the viewer. Plaxo.com lags behind LinkedIn.com in feature development, although its early online address book iteration was the first to allow Outlook contacts to be uploaded “automatically” from the outlook.adb file. If LinkedIn needed either the reputation rating feature or the developers and contacts base, I wouldn’t weep over the consolidation of either of these. In fact, I am looking for ways to avoid posting and maintaining multiple profiles. Social network management sites, take notice.
The Wharton article is instructive in its examination of potential in the online social media space, for which they see a lot of expansion. But, as Google has demonstrated and was confirmed in the recent Facebook-FriendFeed acquisition, the need for intellectual capital and feature expansion may lead to some near term grabs that will consolidate the online social space further. The niche potential is not well defined for smaller communities, but the battle lines are clear in the fight for mass use.
Are there any sites you or your firm/lawyers are using that you wish would disappear into another platform? How do you manage multiple profiles?