Social Computing Developers
, has scored some interesting victories of its own. Marketing firm PCGCampbell used Pringo's social networking platform to create a marketing campaign for Japanese tire manufacturer
, said Dan Criscenti, vice president at PCGCampbell.
An environmentally conscious concern, Yokohama
wanted to engage consumers in how to save the environment. PCGCampbell was commissioned to help
spread its message, and it decided to use social computing to allow people to talk about what they're doing in their communities to help the environment.
Having less than three months from concept to production to set it up, PCGCampbell built Ecotreadsetters, an online forum that lets consumers in the
create profiles and blogs and post videos. Users are also able to submit their environmental projects to win prizes.
"There's no way you could replicate functionality from Facebook or MySpace from the ground up," Criscenti said, explaining why PCGCampbell chose Pringo instead of having its engineers build such a platform.
With vendors providing such efficiencies for their customers, it's hard to dispute the value of social computing tools in today's Internet climate. Perhaps the real question is: How many white-label social computing tools will the market support?
generally charges its customers anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 per deployment, proving that there is money to be made in the space.
Yet not every vendor's technology may make the grade. Sheer said he's found architecting computing tools to enable social networks tougher than building e-commerce and other Web applications, partly because of the relationship models that go into connecting thousands of people.
"It's very challenging; you can't whip up something like this in 60 days," he said.
The ease-of-entry issue depends on perspective. Forrester's Owyang said social computing tools are a commodity now and have gotten easy to create, which is why the market is seeing so many entrants. Making those social networks succeed is an entirely different story.
"If you already have a thriving customer base, the chances of a social network working on your own brand could work," Owyang said. "The disadvantage is that kick-starting a community and getting it up and running is a challenge."