Another question asked in the Q&A section of LinkedIn. My response:
Disclaimer: I am assuming here you’re talking about a destination site like facebook or myspace, rather that a service like twitter.
There are some rudimentary features that help contribute to the overall success of a social networking site. Obviously, #1 is the ease of social interaction. This involves:
– How can people find and make connections within the site?
– How can people invite people who are not currently members?
– How can people communicate?
Data portability is huge right now as well. If you want your site to be the premiere destination, give users the opportunity to import information from other sites. I already have established services for blogging, microblogging, etc. Make it easy for me to share my work elsewhere within your space.
On the flip side, make it easy for me to help promote you and what I do in your space. Let me export my activities or have a publicly available URL for my profile so I can use your service to help engage outside of it (and I’ll even help drive traffic to your site! We both win!)
So those are a few basic features I believe a social network site needs to have to best support their user base. Ha, notice I didn’t mention anything specific about content.. I think that’s more specific to the user base.