"Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”
ASMALLWORLD announced the addition of new features to its network today.
ASW, the elite social network has made moves towards deepening interactivity on their site. The site is known for it’s exclusivity and niche targeting but has had some struggles with user frequency and loyalty in the face of mainstream networks’ rich content offerings.
Among the enhancements are an improved friend search engine that allows users to find members by interests and clubs, photo sharing capabilities, an event guide that allows users to post global events to a public calendar, and a "fabulous" hotel finder. The enhancements are not earth shattering. Rather, they fall in line with ASW's profile of prudence. Rolling out tried and tested Web 2.0 features eliminates inconveniences and social uproar.
The site remains true to its original intent, which is to connect elite networkers for business and pleasure. The by-invite-only site has been growing steadily since its launch in 2004. While a large proportion of the members are entrepreneurial and/or business leaders, there appears to be an ever-increasing number of gurus in media, entertainment, fashion, the arts and sports. The latter provides for rich content for the signature ASW Magazine, which spotlights members and publishes interviews on topics related to their profiles.
Another area of growth appears to be the ”guides” section. Taking full advantage of the network’s commitment to trusted members who have existing social networks of quality, ASMALLWORLD also offers select information most specifically in the tourism vertical as members have a high propensity to travel and eat well. In this environment, hotel and restaurant ratings and reviews have an ideal trusted affect.
It looks like Erik Wachtmeister, Chairman and Founder of ASW, has rallied the right troops behind him. Joe Robinson recently joined the company as President and CEO. Judging by today's release and his "hit the ground running" style member correspondence, he’s already making waves with the experience he's brought to the table.
Having accomplished the task of aggregating “exclusivity en masse”, I believe that time is on ASW’s side when it comes to improving user experience. It seems a lot easier to make enhancements to an existing network than to draw new users through hit or miss product launches. There’s something to be said for slower growth while gaining a deeper understanding of user needs.
From a business model stand point, the remaining challenge will be to monetize deeply into their niche network and to continuously mine new value from a finite audience.