On November 11,  I will be teaching a webinar for Higher Ed Experts as part of the “Social Networks MBA” series. The objective of this series is to help you decide if your institution should launch its own private niche social networking website, and how to nurture and develop a thriving online community around your own social networking website.

My webinar is called “Besides and Beyond Facebook: Do’s and Don’ts for your niche social network” and will borrow many of the concepts from my “Long Tail of Social Networks” workshop. I will explore how niche social networks can meet business objectives and best practices for getting your network off the ground.  In addition, I will share my experiences with launching several niche networks, showing both what did and did not work.

Niche Social Networks are growing exponentially.  On Ning alone there are now over 450,000 sites. Chris Anderson described it best in his blog post Social Networking is a feature, not a destination when he says:

As I think about the current Facebook craze and the notion of it as an all-encompassing platform, sucking in functionality from other sites across the board, I find myself skeptical. With my Long Tail hat on, I think that one-size-fits-all will fail in social networking, just as it has everywhere else (which is why I like Ning, which suppresses its own brand for the sake of those of the microsites it hosts. See this post for more on that.).

Instead, I think focused sites that serve niche communities will extract the best lessons from Facebook and MySpace and offer better social networking tools to the communities they already have. I’m sure huge and generic social networking destinations will continue to do well, but I’m placing my bet on the biggest impact coming when social networking becomes a standard feature on all good sites, bringing community to the granular level where it always works best.

Descriptions of the other two webinars that are part of this series and registertion information is available at the Higher Ed Experts site. If you have any specific topics or questions you would like to see addressed during the webinar, please let me know.