According to a 2007 Pew Research study 55% of US teens have created a profile on a online social network and use it regularly. I say, if you want advice on how to start a successful social network ask a kid! Surfing Alltops "Twenty Something" section I found this great advice on the Young/Upstart blog advising how to start a social social network that plays to our core competency as content publishers:
"Creating a Facebook group is the easy part. Inviting people to join the group is not too difficult either (especially if there’s a really good cause behind it). Keeping people interested, however, is extremely tough. Key to keeping people? Content. Regular, relevant content that incite and maintain conversations.
Needless to say, there really wasn’t anything for me to join.
Tip: Add some good content that will spark off initial conversations (for the above group, a discussion thread that asks people what are the key reasons they don’t have time to spend with their families), BEFORE you start inviting members. People like to see activity."
While content on social networks is typically called "user generated" it takes original content generated by the site sponsor to get things started. As content publishers, content is what we do. So, go ahead. Start a social network on your website with the full confidence that your place at this table has been verified by a twenty something blogger!