Social networking: the new online classifieds

Social networking: the new online classifieds
I’ve written previously about the significance of Tribe.net and There, the social networking giants of the Web, as the Postmodern equivalent of neighborhoods. Social networks are more than online communities, for they organize relationships into tribes, groups of people built on commonality of interest. The concept of tribes is a Postmodern hallmark, because life to Pomos is built around experiences and especially those that can be shared. Mark Pincus, the founder of Tribe.net, is a smart guy who understands that the new culture distrusts the institutions of Modernism, so he’s built basic buying and selling into the tribe structure of his network, and that has gotten the attention of a couple of big boys. Newspaper giants, Knight Ridder and Washington Post Co., have joined venture capital firm, Mayfield, in investing $6.3 million in Tribe.net, because they see the handwriting on the wall and want a piece of Tribe’s unique online classifieds. An article in MediaPost’s MediaNewsDaily notes that the deal is built on the newspapers’ traditional dependence on the classified advertising market, and that Tribe.net is creating a new niche.

Tribe.net posts classified listings for its members, who may sign up to the networking community free of charge, which in turn generates qualified leads for jobs, apartments, cars, used merchandise, and recommendations. Tribe plans to create revenue by selling paid listings and targeted advertising.

Hilary Schneider, CEO of Knight Ridder Digital, says her belief in the online classifieds industry is underscored by KRD’s investment in Tribe.net. “We have years of real-world experience on the front lines of the classifieds business,” she says, adding that the combination of Tribe’s targeted reach and Knight Ridder’s local market presence experience should reap rewards for both sides.

Local market, user-created content and communities translate into a lower cost of doing business, says Ralph Terkowitz, chief technology officer of the Washington Post Company, which he notes is appealing to advertisers and publishers alike.

While I can certainly understand the newspaper investment in Tribe.net, I think it would be smarter for media outlets to build their own social networking platforms rather than jump on one that already exists. As cool as Tribe.net is, it can’t bring real people together as easily as a local version could. Why shouldn’t a newspaper or a TV station be the one to bring this to their community?

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