The internet has become more than a tool used for research and simple entertainment. The world is using the net to connect with people from all over. It has turned into a daily routine, like drinking coffee and reading the morning paper for us. We can’t live without getting online and checking our email or scoping the world news. The list goes on and before we get to social networking. Social networking is the craze nowadays as contrasting social communities are uniting and expressing their individual interests.
Everyone has heard of MySpace, Facebook and Hi5, but have you heard of LinkedIn, MyChurch, or Passportstamp? If you haven’t, it goes to show how social networking, as does life, is evolving. The first three sites are dedicated to general social networking between anyone and everyone. LinkedIn is dedicated to bringing together business owners and entrepreneurs. As MySpace has “Friends” for you to add and chat with, LinkedIn’s users are called “Connections.” The way the site works is as follows: A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second degree connections) moreover the connections of second degree connections (termed third degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone you wish to know through a mutual, trusted contact. Next, you can use the network to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in anybody’s contact network. Employers can list jobs and even search for prospective employees. The job seeker can review the profiles of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them. The next site, MyChurch, is a Christian social network site serving Christian churches that follow the Nicene Creed. In addition to the standard offerings of MySpace, MyChurch allows churches to post sermon podcasts, show event calendars and even collect tithes from members. Although, MyChurch is geared towards Christians, they encourage non-Christians to join. Lastly, Passportstamp is a social networking website for travelers to record their worldly travels and visits. It was even named one of the Top 50 Travel Websites of 2007 by the Times Newspaper. That just goes to show some of the strides social networking online has taken. Other social networking interests include: college life, knitting and crochet, books, music, social story writing, online artistic community, Gay and Lesbian communities, genealogy and biography, recreational sports, collaborative scientists, investing, jet-setting and social elitists, online gaming, African-Americans, fantasy and sci-fi and a site dedicated to adults looking for friends and sexual partners. The list is very, very long and ever growing. There are even sites dedicated to users to create their own social websites and networks.
Spruz, Ning and Wetpaint are a few of these sites that enable the online community to create and customize their own personal social network for their individual interests and needs that cater to specific like audiences. They are all aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees. Imagine a site that is similar to serving as the “queen bee” of all social networking sites. These sites practically “give birth” to baby sites that mature and get older with time. In reality, all of these types of sites are incredibly ingenious ideas. They allow the general public who can’t afford to start up a company but who can afford an idea, a chance to express their interests in a unique and individual way. These “babies” go out and explore the cutthroat online world. Some merely survive and some thrive and grow into other “queen bees” themselves. Wetpaint is one of these “babies” that grew into its own and became a site where people can come together and share information, experiences and build relationships with one another. Wetpaint was created on the notions of hope. The creators of Wetpaint had a friend that was diagnosed with cancer. This friend did what most curious patients would do: search the internet for answers. But he was looking for the nitty gritty about cancer, the stuff nobody liked to talk about. He wanted to know how it all would feel. So, the idea of creating a site where people could come together and do just that, Wetpaint was born. The name, Wetpaint, came from seeing a sign that read “Wet Paint.” The creators wanted to leave their mark on the social networking world. In short span of time, they are accomplishing their goal. My personal experiences with Wetpaint have been nothing but great. Their layout is simple to navigate. Their logo and the colors involved are simple, yet catchy. This is a fun free site that allows users to practically do whatever they want to. Users can set their sites to public or private for only the invited. They’ve made it easier for people to get started by creating templates for a few of the popular social groups allowing them to customize their layouts with vibrant colors and quirky designs. The size and popularity of your site is based on how much time and effort you put into it. The customer support available at this site is unreal. For a free site, you would expect nothing less than the Wal-Mart Meeter/Greeter type of customer service, but Wetpaint steps up to the plate to hit a grand slam in this department. Ning is another social networking site that allows users to be themselves and let loose their inner Van Goghs. Ning, which translates to “Peace” in Chinese, is ranked 566th on the Global Alexa Page rankings. Ning hosts more than 275,000 networks. My personal adventures with Ning have been fun. I built my site centered on the idea of a group of goofy gaggling golfers and their weekend adventures together. Within a matter of minutes, I had two “Friends” join my site. I wasn’t expecting a single person to be interested in a site about golfers on a tiny island near Japan. Ning was fun to work with because, they had many of the features that Wetpaint had to offer, with the ease of Microsoft Paint. It was like two plus two equals four easy. According to the founders of Ning, they power the largest number of social networks on the Internet. As impressive as that is, that doesn’t stop other alike companies to delve into the same line of business.
Spruz is one of those companies. Spruz allows nontechnical users to easily create their own social networks through their super simple navigation. This company is a real up and comer completely focused on customer satisfaction. Wether, you sign up for their free site offering or pay the ultra low fee of $9.95 for their “pro” options which include 1 GB of file space, you will feel like you are being pampered with the best “massage” a masseuse could offer. The company’s main goal is to “see your websites and communities grow and do well.” Their pro and enterprise packages allow the business users to profit 100% of their ad revenue on your site. I found a feature with Spruz that I didn’t find with the other two sites. That is, Spruz allows you to sell your personal items on your page. They offer shopping cart and organizational tools to make it easier to run a business. Other features include, the basic peer to peer networking, blogging, personal security and access control, freeform member profiles, a calendar with event dates, voting polls, statistical analyses, fun prebuilt themes, private community options, a setup wizard for the non computer savvy user and my personal favorite, unlimited pages. You can practically document an autobiography for the entire world to see with Spruz. Underneath the company’s logo says, “Grow Yourself.” That sums up what this company is all about. Personal growth and development through social networking is quickly making Spruz a MySpace-type popularity site. I highly recommend everyone to get onto Spruz.com and give it a shot. Be creative and explore all that they have to offer. Along with the other two sites mentioned above, Spruz is taking on the social networking world by storm.
These networking sites are upping the standards of social internet networking. They allow the everyday user a chance to interact with others from all over the globe and get together to enjoy the same interests and hobbies by letting them create their own social networking sites. They are the future of social networking that is evolving right before our eyes. They are aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees. Social networking sites are popping ip like weeds, so for these three to stand out amongst them is special. The niche that they have going for them is that they allow users to break out of the restrictive confines of the usual suspects and tackle their own personal creativity. People feel free online to be their true selves and previous sites did not allow them to do so. Wetpaint, Ning and Spruz allow people to build and design their own worlds. As I did, I recommend you build your own.