I received an invitation from Lee Oden to jump into Yahoo’s new Mash social network and while I reserve a more in depth post for later, I definitely wanted to take a moment to share some initial reactions and assessments.
First, Y! Mash is cute. Yes, cute.
It’s more related to Myspace than Facebook, so it’s definitely not the leading contender to channel a river of relevance or act as the premier online hub for your personal brand – at least not in a Facbook capacity anyway. But that doesn’t mean that we should write it off either.
This is the new world of Social Media, and Yahoo’s Mash represents the latest network where people will experiment with existing and new relationships – many of whom, are already among your many networks.
Like Facebook, it shares a compartmentalized design template featuring modules that can be moved around to create the profile design you prefer, including the ability to upload backgrounds, CSS stylesheets and also to simply customize the colors.
It’s absolutely effortless to customize your profile and there are already several applets to further personalize the page, and, even add some fun little games for viewers – without touching HTML.
Mash does offer some very interesting features that make it fun, friendly, and surprisingly versatile.
For starters, you can edit not only your profile, but your friend’s pages as well, which I think is very clever.
It also features the ability to bring in modules, which are basically Facebook-style widgets that add embeddable functionality to each page. For example, you can add RSS feeds, Twitter status, flickr photos, Last.fm artists, and Youtube videos – among many other games, time wasters, and tools.
Mash also features a “pulse” stream. which is similar to the newsfeed of Facebook, that highlights the latest updates and activity from you and your friends.
Surprisingly however, the social network is missing the viral functionality of searching for friends. While you can integrate various address books to find and invite friends, the ability to discover them organically is missing. In fact, the “search” box on each profile is simply for Yahoo search.
However, if you’re looking to tap into conversations on certain topics, Mash does feature the ability to find people through the folksonomy of tags a la Technorati. Basically, profiles feature the ability to add tags that describe you and your interests and can be defined by you and your friends. This is a shortcut to find the right people, and your friends, as long as they are truly represented through keywords. When you search by tags, Mash serves up a list of profiles that match the tags, which makes it very interesting to find groups of like-minded people.
So as a marketing professional, pay attention to Y! Mash. It’s easy to immediately disregard it as a young Facebook or simply as just another MySpace. I think its value lays somewhere in the middle.
Either way, our job is to listen to relevant conversations taking place and engage wherever the people we want to talk to congregate.
As more people experiment, the more momentum the network gains. And the more momentum it gains, the more likely that third-party developers will embrace it, thus creating more killer modules that people will want to incorporate into their profile. The more excited they are about it, the more people they’ll tell.
You can bet that Mash won’t be the last social network to debut, so let’s stop complaining about social network fatigue and figure out how to participate. This is the social economy and it’s up to you as to whether or not you need to engage in the conversations that matter to you and your business – wherever they may take place.
Mash is currently in Beta, but if you’d like an invite, try InviteShare.
If you’re looking for me at Mash, here’s the direct link.