- Who is going to flock to this service when you can get similar offerings from other, more open, more popular social networks with no stigma of pornography?
- Is Ning missing out on potential future customers by associating themselves with an adult publication?
- What's the long-term strategry here? What happens to PlayboyU members when they're no longer a student at that school? Do they lose access to their friends, and contacts--or do they get to stick around?
Playboy has launched its own social network, aimed at college students and built on Ning, the create-your-own social networking service. The site is called PlayboyU, and from the start it's taking a very early-Facebook approach, including an .edu-only e-mail domain requirement for potential users. For many there's still an allure for a service that's privatized by an educational pedigree the way Facebook used to be. But that's far from the most interesting distinction. This is Playboy we're talking about--but there's no nudity allowed.
The site is advertising the typical offerings made available through Ning's social networking services, including user profiles, message boards, clubs, groups, and events. There's also talk of "college journalism and fiction" along with a national radio show, meaning Playboy is going to be pumping the site full of specialized content.
What piques my interest is an extensive terms of service agreement that gives Playboy the rights to all your photos and shared content; making me think this new site is serving a far different purpose than just slinging around the Playboy brand. In theory, they could use the network as a place to vet "talent," get e-mail lists of potential customers, and slurp up other various bits of content for the print and Web editions of the popular adult magazine.
No matter how you cut it though, it's a win for Ning, and partially for Playboy who doesn't have to build something from the ground up. Using Ning makes more sense than trying to pervade Facebook or MySpace, as both platforms offer little in the way of private networks that aren't work related or limited to expensive sponsorship deals.
My only nagging questions: