In what can only be described as a grand experiment, Fujifilm has teamed up with Ning.com to create a social network, ZSpotNow.com, based around a single digital camera. The Z20fd is a 10-megapixel point and shoot that comes in multiple fun colors and a special blog mode that reduces and resizes images for upload to blogs and email lists. It also records MPEG4 video and can upload directly to YouTube.
Do all of these attributes make for good social network fodder? Fujifilm’s concept – to wrap a series of events inside a social network – is quite interesting. Using Ning’s new event feature they’ve scheduled three concerts in Miami, NYC, and Los Angeles. The bands and DJs associated with each event will be encouraged to drop content into the social network and various widgets will spread the good word virally. Users will be able to chat and upload pictures and video from the event.
I asked the team why focus on one camera and I got a fairly stock answer: because the camera is, in short, designed for social networkers. While it’s admirable that Fujifilm sees the value of the medium, I suppose this is simply one of the little bangs on the way to the big bang that will happen when a mass-market player – I’m thinking someone like Voodoo or Alienware – creates a social network for their whole brand and not just one device.
As Louis Gray points out, social networks are the new “websites.” It’s not enough to have a web presence because the analytics and stickiness just aren’t there. To build a network of passionate people is a goldmine for marketers and, if played correctly, makes customers feel part of a bigger movement. Would someone like Apple or Microsoft ever create a “Friends of Steve” social network? Probably not – the feelings are already running too hot when it comes to those two. But someone like Steelseries, the small gaming hardware company with a rabid gamer following, could build a thriving social network. I only dread the day when I see “Questions or comments? Tweet mortonssalt at twitter.com. When it rains it pours” on the back of my salt box.