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Social Networking is a Lot More Than MySpace and YouTube

Just what is social networking? Ask three people, and you'll get three different answers. Although most people have a general idea of the basic concept, social networking means different things to different people depending on their background, interests, goals, and level of computer savvy. In this chapter, Patrice-Anne Rutledge describes width and diversity of social networking.
This chapter is from the book

MySpace (www.myspace.com) and YouTube (www.youtube.com) are two of the most popular sites on the web. For many people, these two sites satisfy all their social networking needs. But the world of social networking is much larger than its two highest profile sites. Business networkers could determine social networking isn't right for them after visiting MySpace and YouTube if they didn't also check out the many business-oriented sites that could offer them much greater benefits.

In other words, the world of social networking is wide and diverse. Although early adopters of social networking skew to the young, the trend has now moved into the mainstream with sites for all ages, backgrounds, and interests. There's something for everyone, but you need to know where to find it.

A quick tour of the world of social networking gives you an idea of the vast differences between these sites as well as the possibilities for how social networking could benefit you. Some of the best-known and most-visited social networking sites include

  • Bebo (www.bebo.com)—Bebo reports more than 25 million members and is particularly popular in the UK. Bebo Bands and Bebo Authors draw musicians and writers looking to connect with their audience.

  • Ecademy (www.ecademy.com)—A business networking site with 150,000 members, Ecademy offers numerous networking groups based on your interests. It also offers in-person networking events, primarily in the UK.

  • Facebook (www.facebook.com)—Starting as a community for Harvard students, Facebook opened its doors to anyone with an email address in September 2006 and increased its membership by 89 percent in less than a year.

  • Friendster (www.friendster.com)—Friendster has a member base of 50 million users worldwide and is particularly popular in the Asia Pacific region.

  • hi5 (www.hi5.com)—With more than 60 million registered members and 25 million unique visitors per month, hi5 aims for an international audience with a localized interface available in multiple languages.

  • LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com)—The largest and most popular of the business networking sites, LinkedIn offers profiles of more than 19 million professionals and is particularly popular with recruiters...and those who want to capture their attention.

  • MySpace (www.myspace.com)—Arguably the most popular social networking site on the web, MySpace is expanding from a youth-dominated demographic to encompass members of all ages. Although poor site design and numerous less-than-professional MySpace pages can be a detractor, MySpace is still a great networking tool for the right people (think musical artists, marketers aiming for a general audience, authors of mainstream novels, and so forth).

  • Orkut (www.orkut.com)—Google may have founded Orkut, but that hasn't translated into worldwide popularity. Its most significant user base is in Brazil and India, where it captures a high market share.

  • Ryze (www.ryze.com)—Another business-oriented social site, Ryze has more than 500,000 members and offers a number of special interest networks.

  • XING (www.xing.com)—An active business-oriented social networking site that is particularly popular in Europe. XING was renamed from openBC/Open Business Club in November 2006.

  • YouTube (www.youtube.com)—The world's most popular video-sharing site.

Want even more options? Niche social networking is a hot trend, with microsites sprouting up for almost every conceivable niche audience. Some examples include

Although these “person-to-person” sites represent the most common type of social networking, other sites also fall under the realm of the somewhat fuzzy definition of social networking.

These include

Savvy social networkers have found ways to promote their businesses, products, and causes—and even themselves—on the variety of social networking sites available on the web.

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