Earlier this week, Forrester analyst and social media man-about-town, Jeremiah Owyang, offered commenters a chance to get free pases to a conference for their thoughts on the future of White Label Social Networks (like the kind we build) on his blog. Some 3 days and 28 comments later now, and one of the shocking revelations now was that many comments focuses around the idea that white social networks are doomed to fail, subsumed by larger platforms.
Needless to say (borrowing from Mark Twain), rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the future is wide open and moves by Google and Facebook have made these massive platforms (well in Google's case- platforms) more flexible than ever before but they are stilled walled gardens. No business worth their salt would entirely trust such an important part of their communications strategy- be it customers, employees, partners, readers, or other precious constituents to play soley in a world in which they have not real control.
The truth is, white label social networks will continue to be an integral part of a business social media strategy well into the future. That being said, social network vendors that do not acknowledge that the future will be all about interoperability will be in for a serious shock.