Social networking sites focus on making connections, whether they be of a business, friendship or romantic nature. Social networking has potential in not only being a way to meet people, but also to indirectly market sites through the members’ affiliations, preferences, and professions.
Orkut – Developed by namesake Orkut Buyokkokten, a Google software engineer, during personal time allowed to him through his employer, Orkut is not currently a part of Google’s product portfolio, though some day it may be.
To become an Orkut member, one has to be invited by another member. Although feeling a little “high schoolish,” absence from Orkut doesn’t last too long. Eventually, one of your acquaintenances is sure to join and, in turn, invite you to join as well. Once invited, you must fill out a form where you can choose to reveal some very detailed information about yourself: your birthday, interests, geographic location, marital status, etc. You can even post a picture of yourself. From there, you can ask your friends to join and maybe make some new ones too. As of now, Orkut has no ads nor are there any dues to join. So far, the site is strictly someone’s labor of love.
Friendster – Like with Orkut, when joining Friendster you are asked to answer some basic questions, though Friendster’s questions are not so detailed as Orkut’s. Friendster lives up to its name — it is more of a “meet market” for people actively seeking to meet others rather than to simply network. Friendster does display advertisements and sponsored links.
Tickle – Tickle, formerly known as eMode, is a site with multiple social offerings: networking, matchmaking, groups and test results. Parts of Tickle are free while other parts come with a subscription fee and Tickle does serve advertising. With over 18 million members already, Tickle is a social networking force to be reckoned with.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn presents itself as “an online service helping professionals find and connect with one another more effectively.” LinkedIn’s registration form more resembles a resume than a social application, asking for such information as current/most recent job position, job industry, past experience, and professional overview. You can join LinkedIn through invitation or by starting a network of your own.
Through LinkedIn, both employers and potential employees can make connections. For example, I can easily view both prospects and contacts in the marketing/advertising industry — there are currently 900+ users in the field. Also, your friends and colleagues belonging to the club may share their own endorsements or references in your profile, enhancing the level of trust potential networking partners may have in you and/or your offer. There is currently no fee for LinkedIn while it is in its beta version.
Ryze – Ryze is another business networking site that does not require an invitation to join. A Ryze member’s personal page can contain skills and characteristics information (“What I Have” and “What I Want”). Be careful what you wish for, however. As part of our experiment, within two days of joining Ryze, we were inundated with personal messages and invitations from other Ryze users, mainly salespeople trying to sell us stuff.
MeetUp – Thanks to the current Democratic primary race, MeetUp has received a lot of attention and activity. MeetUp facilitates off-line social network more so than the web-based kind. Visitors to MeetUp, which currently has over one million members, can find a topic of interest and then see if there is a meet-up set to take place in their geographic area. Meet-ups are as diverse as knitting, Harry Potter, and Howard Dean supporters.
Social Networking Links