Lady Gaga’s ‘Little Monsters’ social network launches, but will it succeed?
Lady Gaga today forayed into social media with the public lunch of Little Monsters – a site for fans described as a “community full of art, acceptance, monsters and Gaga”. The site is a classic online community, a space where people with a common set of interests come together to share, create and discuss. But such an online community is difficult to launch and grow successfully. We have previously seen these difficulties with Kylie Konnect, which has failed to attract Kylie Minogue fans in significant numbers. Will Lady Gaga succeed?
The Little Monsters site
The Little Monsters site itself is a combination of a message board, photo sharing and chat room. The homepage has a Pinterest-style layout of image content that members have shared, showing the importance of images and design to the site. Deeper in the site are question-and-answer style message boards (with an emphasis of responses and voting for how useful they are) and themed chat rooms where you can share with other ‘Monsters’.
The overall design of the site learns much in its layout and functionality from current social media tools and sites, and allows you to engage with the content and other users either by the type of discussion you want (image, chat etc) or by the topic of discussion. The site is designed to help users find ways to engage. However, the design and layout of any online community is not as important to success as how the community is seeded, managed and grown.
Will the community grow successfully?
The success of the Little Monsters community will rely more on classic community management techniques than on the design and build of the site. The community has set out with a wide-ranging set of topics of interest, and it will be critical that it is carefully grown so that any one of these topics, or groups of users will dominate to the detriment of others.
The site has been in private launch for some time and it is clear that a small but dedicated seed group has been recruited and been using this site. This group is critical. They must take on the role of growing and helping to manage the community in a way that will be inclusive to new members and that will allow the site to grow rapidly. Any new online community needs to think carefully about this seeding phase – the first people to join any online community will set the tone for later members and will even help to manage the growing number of conversations.
But the next few weeks will be critical. The site needs to grow and maintain engagement levels. This will take hard work – from the community managers running the site and from the key community members. The interest groups will need clear owners and lead members and will need a plan for content and for engagement. Most critically, the site will only be a success if these topics and groups truly do reflect the topics the other Little Monsters share in common with each other.
Finally, the site will fail if it does not continue to grow in an inclusive manner; cliques may appear and new members may not be welcomed into all discussions. The community guidelines, and how the site is managed needs to ensure that no individual group takes over or sets an unpleasant tone for the others.
So on balance making the Little Monsters online community a success will be a difficult task. As with any online community it will succeed if there is real audience demand for it, and if it is managed and grown sensibly with support from community managers and members itself. And these first few weeks will be critical to knowing if this will happen.