Some months ago, we added a social networking side to the web site, divorce360. You could post comments and upload a graphic image. But given the personal nature of the topic, the profiles were anonymous, unlike many of the other social networking sites on the web.
What we discovered was fascinating. People didn't just want to talk about their relationship struggles with one another. They engaged in lengthy intimate conversations, sharing the details of their lives in a place they felt safe. They commented on each other's blogs, offered advice and answered questions. And their comments were often two or three pages long.
Recently, we added a wall to each of the user's pages. If you use facebook, you know this is one of the easiest way to talk to a friend -- as long as you don't mind sharing your commentary with the world.
On our site, the wall has become an increasingly popular tool -- and an addition to the commentary. What users are doing is posting their comments first for everyone and then talking directly to the other person on their wall. Literally, they're posting twice about the same thing, even though both posts are public.
The theory in the room is that the anonymity on the site's community is allowing people to engage more deeply in conversation than they normally would if their profiles were public. In the meantime, the number of users and the user time is climbing. So there must be something to it.