I Want to See Your Grocery List

If I could see two things about you, I bet I could make a pretty accurate decision about how much we have in common overall.

Consider a grocery list and a music collection. If I could see those two things about you and see that we are similar in those two ways, I’d bet we’d find a host of other consistencies. I would probably like your blog.

Isn’t this what social networking is all about? When we form personal/professional networks, join groups, share lists and display them on our pages, isn’t it the same thing as sharing a grocery list? Aren’t we exposing things about us that enable other members to have the context they need to join our network or build a relationship?

To me, this frames what is missing from many “traditional�? online communities. In most message board-based communities, members are limited by a reliance on discussions. The discussion is one of the only ways for members to build an identity -- which can be a starting point for new relationships. Lurkers have limited ways of building new relationships in the community and that’s a shame.

If you’re looking for new ways to bring community members together, think about the grocery lists- what can you let members share about themselves (publicly) that enables them to build identity outside of discussions? How can you help match people based on what they share?

You might find that tofu-eating AC/DC fans are your biggest, but least vocal, constituency.

A similar article: Comparing Social Networking to Online Communities