Social Discovery is a new industry within the world of online commerce, one with few analog references to historical businesses and types of customer interactions. Social discovery is often thought to be simply about meeting people online, but this is a misperception. Facebook, for example, is not in the business of social discovery, because most interactions there are between people who already know each other, and who may not be that interested in spending time online together. Social discovery is the business of connecting people with mutual interests, such as dating, gaming, or traveling together, and creating deeply personal interactions that are long-term, not ephemeral. Social discovery is based on creating networks of trust, such as that of Pandora or Last.fm, where users connect based on similar tastes in music. Developing affinity networks, while maintaining the privacy of the users, is as paramount to gaining and keeping the trust of users as providing a compelling reason for them to interact is.
Having a large user base that you know intimately is the key to success in the social discovery industry. People don’t inherently want to socialize with random strangers, but a social discovery company identifies the core motivations of its users and sets up the interaction opportunities based on their needs and desires. People who are looking for a romantic relationship, someone to play games with, or travel with, are not served by traditional social networks, because the immediate social circle around someone doesn’t necessarily contain compatible people who are interested in the activities users want to take part in. A social discovery company provides an environment for people to interact with each other that matches the needs they already have, rather than trying to create a new need. Whether it’s finding a new relationship, someone to travel Europe with, or simply play chess, social discovery companies facilitate personal interactions that satisfy the craving of users to meet other people with the same desired outcome.
Adults, as opposed to teenagers, want to form a small number of relationships that have depth, rather than dozens or hundreds of shallow ones. A social discovery company does not try to connect an individual user with hundreds or thousands of other users, but instead strives to connect that user with other individuals who the user will truly enjoy interacting with. A social discovery company is akin to a host at a giant convention, greeting new guests and introducing them to people they’re likely to enjoy spending time with, rather than opening the doors and then leaving them to wander alone in the wilderness of random encounters, most of which won’t lead to satisfying experiences.