The Elite Social Networking Sites

By Deane Barker on August 27, 2007

Way Too Good for Facebook or MySpace?: I knew it was going to come to this at some point — social networking sites are getting more exclusive. This article profiles aSmallWorld which is the apparent king of the elite social networking sites.

Membership in these networks, not unlike the exclusive country clubs where the rich and powerful hobnob, is carefully guarded. At aSW, only a subset of established members have the power to invite new users to join. In developing the site, founder Erik Wachtmeister rejected the prevailing Web 2.0 business model of attracting large audiences so you can sell ads to big brands. Instead, he confines membership to the relatively small group of people who travel in the same elite, often moneyed, social circles. “One’s network on the site is less useful if it is diluted by people you don’t know,” says Wachtmeister. His goal was “to create a private place where people could be much more forthcoming with information.”

Two points here:

  1. Chris Pirillo sort of did the same thing. Sometime back he had a mailing list for entrepreneurs (it may still exist, I have no idea). I don’t remember what the joining fee was, but it was pretty steep. The idea is that the cost weeded out everyone but those who were very, very serious about doing business online.

    I wasn’t moved enough to join, but the idea was very attractive to me. I was envious of the discussions I assumed would take place inside. (For more on this general concept, see “Do we put more intellectual value on information we pay for?” and “The Quality of Free Discourse”).

  2. Someone else — and I can’t remember who — said he thought it was almost dishonest to accept connections (“friends,” whatever) from just anyone. He was kind of a big shot, I remember, and his theory was this: “A lot more people ‘know’ me than I, in fact, know. By being selective and only making connections with people I do, in fact, know, I’m keeping the system honest.”

    I can’t disagree with that logic. I get LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know, or people with whom I’ve had one email conversation. The thing I always keep in mind is that with LinkedIn, they can ask me to introduce them to someone I know. Am I comfortable doing that? If I’m not, then I usually don’t accept the connection.

    The bottom line is this: of what value is a “connection” if there’s really no “force of relationship” behind it?

Elitist or not, you can’t deny that for some billionaire, there’s a lot more value in aSmallWorld than in, say, Facebook. Much like there’s more value for them to hang out at the country club than at McDonalds. They do business with people like them, so they need to go where people like them are, and the signal-to-noise ratio is high.

Geez, did I just write that? Maybe I’m just trying to kiss up so I can get in…

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Comments

  1. I’d like to see an elitist web dev forum. Somewhere to talk without being interrupted every four posts by someone asking why their strings print backslashes in front of every quote mark.

  2. Asw is done…The true elite now are choosing sites like chrome nyc, ELIXIO or diamond lounge..where membership is almost impossible..

  3. These sites sound interesting, but why join those when there is Monaco Motion. It provides so many features for just one ten dollar application fee. It is a globally oriented site with amazing networking capabilities from blogging, forums, social groups, profiles and even games. There is really nothing quite like it.

  4. why join those when there is Monaco Motion.

    Yeah!! I’ve heard a lot about Monaco Motion!

    You guy are astro-turfing. Knock it off. You posted your link, that’s enough.

  5. I’m very partial to Affluence.org because they actually validate people have at least a $3 million net worth before they grant them access. I am always certain I am networking with other millionaires and billionaires which helps in getting business done, pursuing and promoting philanthropic interests, and sharing interests.

    I am also a member of ASW, Harvey’s Network, and Diamonloung. I think Diamond Lounge is more of a dating site now. aSmallWorld is more for dancers and waitresses. Harvey’s Network is too small to matter.

  6. I haven’t read all the posts, but I have found that some of the “elitist” sites are nothing more than pretentious wannabe’s. WhyteGold on the other hand boasts billionaires, royalty and policy makers. Now if that is not elitist then I don’t know what is.

  7. Everyone and their dog is trying to start a social networking site…and you end up connecting to the same people on all of them.

    I think the original members believe the sites get too big and try to invite their original group to a new site with less features, failing to capture the spirit or traction of the initial concept while under-serving their demanding audience.

    I’ve seen people plugging different spin-off’s here, and I hate to play the game. But, the only innovative concept/model I’ve seen is the Fame Game, where members have to have been recognized in the media and claim their profile while the system documents their media hits and connects them to others sharing their spotlight.

    I’m an entrepreneur with zero interest in this market space directly, but at least do something unique if you want to capture this crowd.

  8. “A lot more people ‘know’ me than I, in fact, know. By being selective and only making connections with people I do, in fact, know, I’m keeping the system honest.”

    Good all…

  9. Hello everyone! My name is Brandy and I am a 32 yr old pregnant single mom of 2. I moved to the Houston area about 4 weeks ago to look for work after suffering tremendous financial hardship and losing absolutely EVERYTHING me and my kids own. We took our last bit of money and what we had left and put it in our car and here we are. After about 2 weeks of panhandling for a motel room every night I was offered a temporary place to stay by a generous elderly woman, so I took it up. I found a job quickly and actually started this past Monday. So I get up yesterday morning to go to work and take my daughter to school only to find that our car had been reposessed with everything we had left in it. Needless to say, I was unable to go to work or get my kid to school. I’m writing this because I was compelled by My Father in Heaven to use my resources to reach out. I desperately need a car and I just know there is someone out there who wants to bless me with one. I am desperate for some help and I literally have no one to call for help financially or otherwise. If there is anyone out there who can help my family please call 903-372-0483 or emai me brandymullane1@yahoo.com. If not, then please pray for us. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  10. Hello everyone! My name is Brandy and I am a 32 yr old pregnant single mom of 2. I moved to the Houston area about 4 weeks ago to look for work after suffering tremendous financial hardship and losing absolutely EVERYTHING me and my kids own. We took our last bit of money and what we had left and put it in our car and here we are. After about 2 weeks of panhandling for a motel room every night I was offered a temporary place to stay by a generous elderly woman, so I took it up. I found a job quickly and actually started this past Monday. So I get up yesterday morning to go to work and take my daughter to school only to find that our car had been reposessed with everything we had left in it. Needless to say, I was unable to go to work or get my kid to school. I’m writing this because I was compelled by My Father in Heaven to use my resources to reach out. I desperately need a car and I just know there is someone out there who wants to bless me with one. I am desperate for some help and I literally have no one to call for help financially or otherwise. If there is anyone out there who can help my family please call 903-372-0483 or emai me brandymullane1@yahoo.com. If not, then please pray for us. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  11. I am on Elixio, Asmallworld, Eleqt and RIP Decayenne…There are about 4 more similar sites with less than 10,000 members….I think Asmallworld 850,000 members and Elixio 80,000 members are the largest social networks in the luxury niche. I use Elixio for mostly business relations in the USA since Asmallworld is more popular in Europe.

  12. Asmallworld is still good. I liked it better when Erik Wachmeister was CEO and and the member quality was much better. I am on Elixio too and it reminds me of the beginning of ASW. However Elixio seems to be more influential in the US since most of its members are from NYC, Miami and LA..Hopefully it sill get more traction in Europe.

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