Is There a Need for Niche Social Networks?

This weekend I was pondering the existence of many of the niche social networks that exist out on the web. A quick look at the growth in traffic for Ning.com shows that there is a huge demand for sites catering to specialized interests. Can’t all of the discussion that takes place on the niche social networks just as easily take place on a site like Facebook or MySpace? Why do we need to have distinct websites for each of these conversations?

Ultimately even a blog can be a social network in theory since it assists in connecting people but in this instance I am referring specifically to social networking websites that enable users to present public profiles of themselves. My online identity has become so distributed that it is occasionally overwhelming. As we age and obtain new priorities, the time available for socializing via the web decreases dramatically.

Wouldn’t it be much more useful to keep all of our conversation contained within one location? It would make for easier management and better organization. While I know that this won’t be happening anytime soon (this is the internet, a distributed platform), perhaps we will see conversation consolidation. Do you think there really is a need for niche social networks? Are you an avid participant of any niche social networks?