Sep 24, 2020
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How To Create a Social Network That Makes Money

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Creating a successful social network isn’t any easy task. Being profitable from it really is arguably even harder. Peter Ward knows this better than most. Ward is co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of WAYN (Where Are You Now?) a British-Polish startup and social network for travellers. WAYN is a veteran inside the social media world

 

It has seen the rise of networks such as Facebook and Snapchat as well as the autumn of others such as Myspace and Friendster since its inception in 2002. In that time WAYN has been able to survive and carve out its own niche purpose and following of around 23 million members

 

It has not been a simple task. The network needed to operate on a shoestring budget for a lot of its development and a huge portion of its on-going growth. Initially WAYN raised around $15 000 in seed funding says Ward. Financing has become a bit easier to come back by since then

 

In 2012 it underwent another round of funding raising $5. 5m – with a huge contribution coming from Scottish Equity Partners. Ward and his co-founders made a giant breakthrough in 2005 that led to WAYN s current success. On the time the network was struggling to draw new members in a cheap way

 

We were resorting to giving out fliers in the street says Ward. Google ad-words worked but were costing more per new member than we would be able to earn from them. On the time the positioning had fewer than 50 000 members. The founders of WAYN discovered that many users were joining but few would take the time to move in the course of the strategy of manually adding their friends – resulting in a missed opportunity for membership growth and potentially a shorter period of activity as users that did not make new connections might drop out

 

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A New Partnership Aims To Help WAYN created a system where users could automatically send invites to friends of their email address book –a now ubiquitous feature that was virtually non-existent on the time. This led to an enormous increase in membership – over a million within six months and continued growth from there says Ward

 

This huge increase got the ball rolling and helped to make certain WAYN s continued survival. The issue then became considered one of effectively commercialising the network and its user-base. The networks that succeed are those with a transparent commercial mindset says Ward. New startups that you have to be social after which earn money typically don t survive beyond a point

 

WAYN had an idea for commercial success. As users connected and discovered new places to go to WAYN could capitalise in the course of the provision of services such as bookings either directly on the site or through tie-in third-parties. But that doesn t mean it s been a straight road

 

At one point we had a Tinder-esque service allowing travellers to meet up says Ward. It kept the lights on and allowed us to continue to grow however it wasn t the nexus of what we wanted. The network has subsequently redirected back to its core objective – helping people discover where they must go on holiday through social interaction and travel reviews

 

The next move is taking this information and codifying it to supply better options and a more tailored personalise experience to users. This includes collecting and mapping data on what activities are good in any particular destination Ward adds. We re making the user experience more targeted and relevant –and that means we get a much better return on every user experience he says

 

If we are able to convert users to find more or make a booking it means we ve done an excellent job in bringing them what they want. The number of social media sites continue to rise. There s no way of knowing what the subsequent big thing is. But by ensuring a social media site has a commercial objective a spot area of interest and the determination to succeed on a small budget a startup has a chance to succeed

 

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