New balls please

Tennis balls 

Mike Butcher picks up on the Brand Republic story about the future of social networks being in niche verticals.

The most remarkable thing about the original article – about the Association of Tennis Professional (ATP) launching a ‘social network’ with 10Duke – is the lack of thought added to the piece by the journalist as she fairly obviously retypes a press release. What she forgets to mention is that companies don’t get to launch social networks – social networks do.

This article has attracted quite a lot of coverage, so it’s a real shame that it’s so uncritical. Even 30 seconds of Googling would have uncovered the woeful test site. Couldn’t any of us have done better on Ning in five minutes? Or if time is short – spend two minutes making a Facebook group as Mike suggests, and then support it with interesting content, as they should be doing anyway.

As with all these ventures, build it and they will come does not – by a long shot – make sense. And the investment should go into interesting and engaging content. Without an audience playing ball (sorry), the world welcomes one more empty warehouse from ATP. Consumers do not need brands to provide enablement, they need brands to provide interest.