It’s the community, stupid

Joshua Porter writes in “Why Invest in Social Features for Your Web Site?“:

In addition to the explicit benefits for the site owner, implementing social features means building a community around shared experiences. The notion of “shared experiences” difficult to define, but the benefits of increased participation and caring are clear. People respond best to communities where they believe they’ll find like-minded people and where they feel their ideas and opinions matter. This trust is the real benefit of social software.

Therefore, adding social features isn’t so much a leap of faith as it is an investment in a long-term experience design strategy.

It’s a great article, describing some of the softer or harder to quantify benefits of adding social features to your site, and connecting them to core user experience design issues.