3 elements of behavior on successful social sites

What make users spend so much time on social sites? What do we get in return and why are we so much more open online? I am probably not the only one asking these questions.  My observation is that 3 elements motivate us:

Curiosity. Have you ever spent time exploring profiles of strangers? It is somehow a core instinct - we just cannot help looking through the profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Which must be the answer to why (mainly women) buy gossip magazines. 

Profiling is the answer to why we don't mind sharing pictures and thoughts that we probably would not share with strangers in offline life. Suddenly we are able to show a side of our self, and in that way promote our personality across circles.

Recognition. Some believe we are driven by money, power and/or recognition. Recognition is exactly what we get when we suddenly have +200 friends or followers. Being followed or invited gives us status in the community. By the end of the day we just want to fit in, having a purpose in life and get recognized for our contribution. We are suddenly able to benchmark our popularity among friends, colleagues and people we dig. 

So how can your start-up benefit from this? 

Exposing your users with pictures, tags, short descriptions gives fellow users a teaser for reading more - driven by curiosity.

With an ocean of spectators we have the opportunity to stand out, revealing our self in new ways. So give your users the ability to profile them self as individuals, thinkers, believers and helpers to the community.

Most of us (if not all) needs recognition and that is why this element is so vital, encouraging us to spent hours participating on the community, sharing information and networking. So make sure your users contribution gets recognized by the community.

Obviously these elements cannot stand alone, you still need a dynamic and brilliant service, but if you do not support natural behavior, you might become a bit lonely on your community. I pay attention to these factors on Mentory and our other services, trying to hit that perfect balance.

I believe this is also the fault of many Inter/Intranets. Organizations are puzzled why their employees or customers are not generating content, knowledge sharing and participating.  Try to ask - what is in it for them?

Mentory phase 2 - Spin-off

We launched Mentory on February 2. 2009. It was a really exciting day, and the positive response and help from our fellow tweeters was astonishing - thank you all! But launching also means full steam on bug fixing, improvements and further development based on all the user feedback.We decided to take a day out and work on the matchmaking process of a mentorship - the vital part of Mentory.

We experienced that we were drawn in two directions. 1 - developing a process that matches an offline mentorship. 2 - developing a process that supports online behavior i.e. redefining the mentorship. We want to support both, so we are enhancing the online process, integrating Mentory with other services, using API´s and then dada... we got a really neat idea since it is generic and supports the ideology of our other start-up concepts (the service former known as Journster.com - Jacobs brainchild).

Since we apparently are first movers I will only reveal a few details. We move towards semantic web, we observe synchronicity but yet we build and use services in a silo. This is basically what we want to change. In the futile search of a name, we discovered that one of our other start-ups, had the name we needed, so we took it - Journster.com.

For now we will improve Mentory in it´s first version, integrate video communication and then we will work on this new service to optimize the mentorship matchmaking.

We expect to launch it on Mentory within 2 months - so if you are up to become a beta tester please signup on journster.com