These days it's becoming almost a joke when a company say it's going to offer social networking services. Most of the time these attempts seem to fizzle out and go nowhere, or they're just simply dumb ideas. The latest such offering is from Toyota, which wants to let buyers of its hybrid vehicles put up a page about themselves, complete with personal information and their reasons for driving a hybrid. Users can then search out other like-minded drivers, though it's unclear whether the site is designed to facilitate actual communication, or if it's just a place for drivers to "express themselves". To its credit, Toyota realizes there is a social component to purchasing a hybrid vehicle. By their nature they do say something about the buyer's tastes, and often their political and philosophical attitudes. But there's no need to try corralling hybrid drivers onto Toyota's site. There are already clubs online and offline for hybrid drivers, just as there are for drivers of Porsches or BMWs. There's almost certainly a MySpace hybrid car group as well. The mistake in Toyota's thinking is that the only way to profit from social networking is to set up a site. In fact, they'd probably do better to facilitate and help expand the groups that already exist, rather than taking it all for themselves.
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