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October 01, 2007

Looking for failed social applications

by Josh Bernoff

One of the peer reviewers of a draft of our book Groundswell said we hadn't cited enough failures -- hadn't been clear enough about the pitfalls of entering the Groundswell.

Fair enough. I'm asking you for help, now. Bring me your flops. Communities that didn't take off. Companies that blundered in blogging (spare me the Wal-Mart flog, please). Wikis that just lie around. Sites with ratings and reviews that nobody uses.

You can post 'em in comments here or email me at jbernoff at forrester dot c om. The ones that will get into the book -- the best ones:

  • Were highly visible.
  • Failed for some reason that is, in hindsight, identifiable.
  • Can therefore be an object lesson.

If you want to share something personal that you were involved in, even better -- and we can talk about the effort without mentioning your company name.

I'll post a follow-up that describes the patterns in the failures, if we get enough.

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Robin Grant

How about the Wal-mart Facebook group?



I'll get my coat...

Kevin Hillstrom


Kami Huyse

As Kevin says Unicashare had a very interesting, "we quit" post. It lays out why from an ROI standpoint:


David Binkowski

Please make sure you don't forget the various Second Life abandonments!

Jeremiah Owyang

We created this wiki for the scoble show

it failed, as it was repeatedly vandalized and thus shut down.



Geesh, I know what you're looking for, crash and burn stories; however, you don't underscore that software solutions can not be applied to everything, social networking can't be applied to everything. There are not any lessons to learn except talk to your potential constituents, see what might help them, write it, beta it extensively, rewrite, try again, a couple of times. What is positive about drawing attention to failure when it is obvious that the big problem was very likely that they baked the concept in a test tube instead of real life.

Sara Simonds

Walmart has two:
- Walmart's The Hub
- I second Walmart's Roommate Style Match Facebook app (I think it's already been pulled down)

Also, classic flog examples...
Coke's The Zero Movement blog (before Coke claimed it)
McDonald's Lincoln Fry blog

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