The 3rd-Space Site Concept

People like to remind me that more than 1/2 of the country says they’ve never even been on a blog.  I like to remind them that lots of people have been on blogs, but just don’t realize the website they were on is, technically, a blog.  Whenever I start talking social media or social networking and the business value of it all — eyes start to roll.   Too many corporate executives still don’t get it.  Too many are still worried about someone swearing or saying something negative about them on the site.

Sites with social aspects (blogs) and true community sites like Gather.com, Bakespace, and Chowhound, all provide a myriad of ways to not only reach out to consumers, but also to LEARN from them.   They also can increase trust, reputation, sales.    Why do you think Amazon.com has worked so hard to create community features on their site?  It’s the perfect virtual “3rd space” plan.

Starbucks is famous for creating a 3rd space, between home and office, in their stores.  You don’t just go there to buy coffee.  You hang out, you listen to music, you buy cute coffee cups,  you work on your laptop — whatever.   One of my favorite tea companies has done an astonishing job of creating a 3rd-space site to bring together tea aficionados online and sell more tea.

I’m not suggesting that every single brand create their own 3rd-space site.  I think the better approach would be to join existing networks, like the aforementioned Gather.com.  But, when I read this article from BizReport today about magazines buying up social networks — it made total sense.  Imagine the power of a CondeNast 3rd-space site?  CondeNast publishes everything from travel magazines to gourmet food magazines.  It would be great to be able to hang out on a website with that type of dynamic and interesting people.

Right now my 3rd-space site is my RSS reader because it aggregates everything from major websites and blogs I read to my friends’ Flickr feeds and LiveJournals.  It even let’s me share things I’m reading so my friends can subscribe to and follow in their own RSS readers.

The power of this idea even trickled down to the Gilmore Girls last night, where the young entrepreneur was complaining that his old business-tycoon father just didn’t understand the need to buy this social networking site now.  The message is simple.  If you are still scared of blogs — you are going to fall behind.  The bleeding edge has already moved beyond all this to virtual Earths and virtual worlds…but that’s another post for another day.

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