A theory I am currently working on for the addictiveness for online social networks.
I think there are specific stages to a members interaction with a online social network. They are as such
Stage 1: Lighting the fire
The initial introduction to the site, Members are hooked by the fact that you can catch up with all you weak ties in a indirect easy way. A lot of the communication is based around this ‘Oh, I can’t believe you are on here as well (facebook), how have you been? We should catch up for a beer/coffee soon’
Stage 2: Stoking the fire
Is where the initial looking for friends has either reached its capacity within that social network or you a complementing your offline interaction. This communication is based around your offline interaction acting as an extension of your offline self. This communication is filled with ‘Great catching up with you today, what was the name of that shop you said I would like’ or my favourite ‘You were so drunk last night’.
Stage 3: ???????
There is an overlap of the stages, I still find myself in Stage 2 finding weak ties and saying ‘Haven’t seen you for ages, lets catch up’ but I would say most of the communication is around this extension of my offline social behaviour.
Warning the Burn out stage:
However like my account on Account Plan.ning, I lost interest because I could not reach Stage 2. I was not seeing anyone from the online social network, offline. However I have found a new use for the Ning and that is using the forum to utilize the combined knowledge of the active users to help mould my thinking.
Follow the conversation that is also being had at the Account Planning Ning