Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A simple introduction to social networking (and some more up and coming sites)

The year is 2007 and the most popular meeting place on earth is the World Wide Web! Just what does this mean? Quite simply that there are millions and millions of internet users that are connecting to each other online and creating “virtual meeting places”. Whether you are a chess enthusiast or an avid cook, whether you collect rare insects or are devoted to keeping up with the latest fashion trends, or even if you simply enjoy being in touch with people around the world, there is a virtual gathering place for almost every interest and taste.

For an affiliate, the potential contained in these social networks is enormous. With their rate of growth, the possibility of gaining new customers and establishing relationships with potential partners within specific verticals is endless. A large number of networking sites make it easy to find users that are interested in similar topics, which means a marketer can find profiles and networks of users suited for their particular vertical(s) with relative ease. Growth and profits derived from social networks start with a proper understanding of these social portals.


  • Start by getting to know the biggest and most popular networks.
  • As you get more comfortable, identify social networks within your vertical(s).
  • Become an avid participant in the area(s) you have identified.
  • Beware of the hard sell.
  • Have a creative site that has original content and is in tune with the target audience.

It is advisable to spend a good amount of time perusing some of the bigger existing social networks. This will allow you to understand the inner workings of these sites and to get to know their specific lingo – key factors in getting you comfortable enough to become an avid participant. LinkedIn, a profile-based website, is one of the fastest growing networking sites for professionals. An affiliate can benefit from LinkedIn by creating their own profile which highlights their main portals and the programs they have worked with successfully in the past. Using a service like LinkedIn allows affiliates to reach not only affiliate and marketing managers, but can also help establish relationships with other sites with which they may want to partner or provide co-registration services.

The hottest social network sites:

Digg ~
Myspace ~
LinkedIn ~
Del.Icio.Us ~ ~ ~
Yahoo 360 ~

Growing social network sites:

RepVine ~
Netscape ~
MyBlogLog ~
Magnolia ~

For the intrepid affiliate that is on the continuous search for new and innovative opportunities, tapping into social networks is a great strategy. After all, the internet is all about relationships – building relationships, expanding the boundaries of existing relationships and creating communities where the relationship sky is limitless.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sulake Enters The Social Networking Market – Acquires a Highly Successful Social Networking Service in Finland with Intention to Launch Internationall

The company behind easy-to-use virtual world Habbo expands its product portfolio and becomes the largest online community company in the Nordics.
Helsinki, Finland (rushprnews) April 24, 2007 — Sulake Corporation, the company behind Habbo, one of the world’s largest virtual worlds for teenagers, takes a strong step towards the social networking scene by acquiring Finland’s leading social networking service IRC-Galleria.

The acquisition makes Sulake the biggest company in online communities and virtual worlds in the Nordic region. Sulake’s online services now reach more young people than any other media in Finland.

Sulake’s long-term goal has been to broaden its product portfolio with new online services, which can be launched internationally by utilizing the unique international network Sulake has built for Habbo. Currently Sulake has offices in 19 countries with a staff of over 300, over 150 payment methods in 32 countries, global hosting centers as well as distribution and marketing partners all over the world.

The objective of the deal is to launch a new social networking service based on IRC-Galleria concept to carefully selected countries using Sulake’s infrastructure and experience. The IRC-Galleria concept has localized versions already in Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Germany.

Timo Soininen, CEO of Sulake Corporation: ”Sulake’s objective is to become a major global player in online entertainment by focusing on virtual worlds and social networking services. We want to build a portfolio of products, which offer a wide range of social interaction services and entertainment for different target groups and for different user needs. Our new service IRC-Galleria fits this goal perfectly. The company behind the service and its skilled employees together with Sulake’s current resources gives us a magnificent opportunity to build up a new internationally successful social networking service. Sulake has managed to make Habbo one the most spectacular success stories in the area of virtual worlds and communities and I’m confident we can do this again.”

Taneli Tikka, CEO of Dynamoid comments: ”Our service has always been about real and active users. Our average user spends more than 20 hours in the service monthly, which is over ten times more than an average user in MySpace. An active IRC-Galleria user spends more than 35 hours per month using the service. Being a part of the Sulake group gives us a perfect chance to develop our business for international markets. We are thrilled about the opportunity to join the international network that Sulake offers.”

2.2 billion monthly page impressions in IRC-Galleria

IRC-Galleria is by far the largest and most used social networking service in Finland. The site is visited by more than 850 000 Finns every week (source: TNS Metrix) and the service has over 415 000 active members. The site receives an astonishing 2.2 billion monthly page impressions, which makes it one of the most active online communities in the world.

IRC-Galleria is an interactive service where users can e.g. post and share their photos and music on their own customized site, joint different communities and communicate with people in many ways. Currently the members are on average 19.5 years old and over half of the registered are over 18. Basic usage of IRC-Gallery is free, but users have an option to purchase additional services and enhancements. The service can also be used with a mobile phone. (


Habbo has over 75 million registered avatars

Sulake’s main product Habbo, one of the world’s largest and most popular virtual worlds for teenagers, has already over 76 million registered avatars. Currently operating in 29 countries, the Habbo communities are visited by 7 million users per month, each user spending an average of over 30 minutes per session in the virtual world and community.

For more information please contact:
Sulake Corporation Oy, Timo Soininen, CEO, tel. + 358 50 564 8269

Dynamoid Oy, Taneli Tikka, CEO, tel. +358 40 771 9828

General press contact:
Sulake Corporation Oy, Juhani Lassila, Communications Manager, tel. +358 40 541 2365

Press images:

About Sulake:
Sulake is an online entertainment company focused on virtual worlds and social networking. Sulake’s main product is Habbo, one of the world’s fastest growing virtual worlds and online communities for teenagers. There are localized Habbo communities in 29 countries on five continents. To date over 76 million Habbo characters have been created and 7 million unique users worldwide visit Habbo each month (source: Nielsen Netratings). Habbo brand is being extended to include mobile games and content as well as real-life products.

Sulake was established in 2000 and it has more than doubled its annual revenues each year. The main shareholders in Sulake include Taivas Group, Elisa Group, 3i Group plc, and Benchmark Capital followed by Movida Group (in Japan), the company’s founders Sampo Karjalainen and Aapo Kyrölä, Sulake’s CEO Timo Soininen and other personnel.

Sulake has offices in 19 countries. Headquarters is situated in Helsinki, Finland. Currently the company has 300 employees worldwide.

About Dynamoid
Dynamoid Oy is a company behing Finland’s most popular social networking service IRC-Gallery. The company was founded in 2003 and has grown significantly every year. Currently the company has 27 employees and besides the Finnish IRC-Galleria, the company has opened services in Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Germany. The company’s product portfolio also includes the Dark Portal game community, aimed at World of Warcraft players.

Blogs, social networks used by the wealthy

Marketers wanting to make inroads to wealthy clientele should target blogs and social networks. That, according to a new study which indicates that the wealthy in America are interacting on social networking sites and reading blogs more than the general public.

According to a recent survey from the Luxury Institute, a full 76% of wealthy Americans are reading blogs. That is up from 57% in the 2005 study. Also interesting is that more wealthy Americans are blogging themselves (24%), up from 18% in 2005.

Compare that with the median income Americans and it is clear that those with more money appear to be more interested in technological advances. According to the report, only 25% of the general American population read blogs and only 9% maintain their own blogs.

Instant messaging is also a mode of communication that more wealthy Americans are using (55%) than the general public (39%). Also, 31% of wealthy Americans are active on a social networking site compared with only 16% of the general public.

For the study, the Luxury Institute polled 1,000 web users making $150,000 or more each year.

This is a clear indication that marketers with high-end merchandise need to accommodate the wealthy in their online advertising campaigns. Rather than simply purchases display ads on supposed-high-end websites, marketers may get a better response from advertising within the social mediums - advertising within high-traffic blogs or on social networks.

John Edwards + Social Networking

Much has been said about the candidates and social networking, however, I just think what they did here was really a good approach:

list of social networking sites

Check here for all the latest, I will repost as I find them:

Name Description/Focus
43 Things Tagging
Advogato Free Software and Open Source developers
aSmallWorld European jet set and social elite African-Americans
Bebo Schools and colleges
Blue Dot Link sharing Video sharing and webcam chat
Blurty Blogs, based on LiveJournal
Bolt General (music and video)
CarDomain Car enthusiasts
Care2 Green living and activism School, college, work and the military
Consumating "Consumeetings"
Couchsurfing "Couchsurfing"
Cyworld Young South Koreans
Dandelife Collective narratives or "shared biographies"
DeadJournal "Dark" blogs, based on LiveJournal Mobile location-based service, owned by Google
DontStayIn Clubbing (primarily UK)
Doostang Careers
Ecademy Business
eSPIN Teen Dating
Facebook College/High School students
Faceparty British teens and 20-somethings
Flirtomatic Flirting/Dating
Flickr Photo sharing
Fotki Photo sharing
Friends Reunited School, college, work, sport and streets
Friendster General
Frühstückstreff General
FUPEI General (Photo, Video, Music, Games, Event, and Chat Room)
Gaia Online Anime and Games
Gazzag General Families, genealogy
GoPets Virtual pets School, college, and work
GreatestJournal Blogs, based on LiveJournal Poland
Hi5 General
Hyves General; focus on students and Dutch speakers
imeem Instant messaging
IMVU 3D chat software
IRC-Galleria Finland
iWiW Hungary
Joga Bonito Football (soccer)
JuiceCaster General Music
LinkedIn Business
LiveJournal Blogging
LunarStorm Sweden
MEETin General General Latinos
Mixi Japan
MOG Music
Multiply "Real world" relationships
MySpace General
myYearbook General
Netlog European young adults (14-24). Formerly known as Facebox.
Nexopia Canada
orkut Owned by Google
Passado General
Phrasebase Foreign Languages (education)
Piczo Teenagers, Canadians, photo sharing
Playahead Swedish teenagers
ProfileHeaven British teens
RateItAll Consumer ratings + social networking Locating friends and family, keeping in touch
Rimzu Sociometric rankings General
Ryze Business
Sconex American high schools
Sportsvite Recreational Sports
Studivz University students, mostly in the German-speaking countries
Stumbleupon Websurfing
TagWorld General (tagging)
TakingITGlobal Social action
The Student Center Teens and colleges
Threadless Custom T-shirts
Travellerspoint Travel General
Twitter Update friends with your status through SMS, IM, web interfaces
Vampire Freaks Gothic industrial culture
Vox Blogging
WAYN Travel & Lifestyle
WebBiographies Genealogy & Biography
Windows Live Spaces Blogging (formerly MSN Spaces)
Xanga Blogs and "metro" areas
XING Business
Xuqa Colleges
Yahoo! 360° Linked to Yahoo! IDs
Yelp United States adults
Zaadz Social consciousness

Social Networking 3.0

If there were a competition for "Internet Buzzword of the Year," last year's winner would have been "social networking," as a cohort of companies such as Ryze, Tribe, LinkedIn, Friendster, Spoke, and Visible Path, rolled out new or improved services that let Web users create online mirrors of their circle of real-life acquaintances. The idea was mainly to let users build online profiles that advertised their interests and to help them connect with friends and friends-of-friends around one of those interests -- whether it be finding a job, making a sale, or repairing an old motorcycle.

But with the exception of Friendster and Myspace, the initial response to these services among average Internet users was sluggish. Many users signed up for one or more services, created online profiles, formed connections with a few acquaintances, and drifted away, uncertain about how to use the networks.

But today, not only have all of these companies survived; they're experiencing record growth, introducing new technology and new money-making features, and being joined by sophisticated new competitors such as iMeem. Moreover, they're joining the parade of sites offering "rich media" -- the big buzzword of 2005 -- by encouraging users to share their own content online, including photos, videos, music, and other digital files.

Social networking, in other words, is finally becoming a real business with a convincing product.

"A year ago a lot of our users were pretty unclear about what they could do," says Konstantin Guericke, co-founder and vice president of marketing at LinkedIn, a social network focusing on business connections. "They knew they were getting invitations to join the network, and they knew how to accept invitations, and sometimes they sent their own invitations -- but they weren't sure what else to do with that."

A year later, LinkedIn's membership has grown from 1 million to 4.2 million; users are conducting 5 million searches a month for potential contacts within their own networks, and the company has launched several revenue-producing features, such as paid subscription options that allow members to search profiles outside their immediate circle of friends and friends-of-friends.

Rather than simply passing requests for introductions back and forth through their networks -- which was about all they could do a year ago -- LinkedIn members are using their networks for practical purposes, like finding job candidates, locating business and legal services, and coordinating group activities.

What makes all this possible, says Guericke, is the user-generated content LinkedIn holds in its members' profiles, such as resumes and testimonials. "First, we are a search engine. But second, we are a publishing platform -- about yourself and what other people say about you," Guericke says. "It just creates a more powerful business."

MySpace to Exclusively Stream Rip Curl Shows

Rip Curl, a company dedicated to products and events surrounding action board sports.

With the exclusive partnership, Rip Curl content will be broadcast and promoted on MySpace. Rip Curl Search TV shows, their International Films back catalog, and streaming and event video productions from Rip Curl contests will show on MySpace and their own website. As both companies have a global audience, the deal is beneficial for all parties involved. Rip Curl reaches a broader audience, and MySpace ramps up their online video offerings, moving beyond the realm of user-generated content to more premium offerings.

The deal signifies the onset of a new video strategy for MySpace, which is important as they play catch-up to YouTube, who has landed several deals with broadcast networks, and Joost, who has recently signed deals with several players in the indie film market.

NeighBorrow : Social Borrowing?

Now you can borrow, trade or outright get things from other people. NeighBorrow is a social networking site that will let you find other people that have the things you need and want.

If you have something you don't use often and don't mind lending it, or if you have something but want something else, or if you have something you just don't need anymore at all, consider lending it, trading it or donating it to someone else. That's what NeighBorrow is all about.

Right now you can only share with groups you belong to. You can create your own group. Maybe you can get everyone in your family to sign up as a group, or everyone at work. Then when someone has something they can lend they can list it and someone else will know the item is available and can borrow it.

They will be adding a shipping feature in the future to make sending items to each other easier. In the meantime you can't borrow within the entire network so you'll need to search around and find some groups to join so you can share across the Internet.

Five reasons social networking doesn't work

older, but interesting:

The word on the street lately is that social networking is in trouble. Friendster's CEO, Scott Sassa (most famous for firing a blogger who wrote about the company) recently departed in the face of a rapidly dwindling user base. Friendster has also introduced its own for-pay blogging tool as an all-too-ironic money-making scheme. Business networking site LinkedIn started charging for its job listings. Meanwhile, the recent launch of the Yahoo 360 beta has the blogosphere speculating that Friendster, the pioneer, is already on its deathbed. And Business 2.0 has a good article in this month's issue (subscription required) about how the indie music networking site MySpace is, for all intents and purposes, the only successful site, with more than $20 million in ad sales this year and plenty of long-staying subscribers.

What do you think? Am I missing the point about social networking? Let me know!
Social networking is laboring under the inescapable weight of the dot-com curse: you have to find the money. No matter how cool your idea is, it's dead on arrival without an actual business plan. At least, that's the theory. If that's true, though, why has blogging, which seems like a neat idea dependent on interest but without a concrete revenue stream, managed to not just thrive, but really dominate the Web? How is it that free instant messengers are as indispensable as any search engine, and little guys like Trillian are still going strong? Is it really true that free services can't be effective business plans? Or is it possible that--gasp!--social networking isn't really that tenable an idea after all?

The social networking experience
I've gotten a lot of invitations to Friendster over the years, which, to be honest, I ignored. I always just assumed I didn't have time for that tomfoolery. Plus, I already had a boyfriend, and I already had friends. I know that all sounds horribly snobby, but there it is. But then, along came Orkut. Suddenly, because I was working in the Geek Zone, my coworkers were sending me Orkut invites. Every geek I knew was into it, and the peer pressure got too strong. I signed up. I filled out my little Orkut profile (I think I even uploaded a photo), and for about three weeks, my friends, coworkers, and I obsessively hung out on Orkut. And then, suddenly, we just got bored--weirdly, all at the same time. My entire Orkut generation, all the people who'd found it at the same time I did, just up and lost interest. Of course, round about that time, Orkut got painfully slow, and although it's better now (I just checked it out in the course of writing this column--hey, maybe I'll have a resurgence of interest!), it's still a heck of a lot easier to just e-mail or instant-message the people I know.

The five horsemen
Therein, I think, lies one of the five problems I've identified with social networking, and a good segue into my list.

1. There's nothing to do there
As Business 2.0 points out, a simple destination site won't cut it. My big beef with Friendster was always, "Well, what would I do there?" Visiting most social networking sites is akin to getting invited to a party where all the cool kids are going, then showing up and finding out there's no food, no drinks, no band, no games, no pool, nothing. Just a bunch of painful small talk and leering grins. The people-watching can hold your interest for only so long.

2. It takes too much time
Yes, I know I can choose where to devote my time, but Orkut, Friendster, and even LinkedIn (which I do find more useful than the purely social sites) are interesting but less information rich than news sites, blogs, Google news, or any of the other sites I could visit on the Web. It's interesting, for example, to blog about the experiences I had on a given day, but it's tedious to make sure my personal stats, favorite books, and current reading list are up-to-date. One of the reasons I think personal blogs win out over social networking is that they're inherently more personal, more inwardly focused, and a better chance to show more than a snapshot of yourself.

3. Traffic alone isn't enough
The reality of the new Web is that traffic alone just doesn't cut it. You can get all the visitors you want to your site, but you can't just blanket the thing with ads and hope to survive. Advertisers today are a more sophisticated bunch, and they're looking to send targeted, rich-content messages. That means that reliance on a generalized supply of banner ads is not a sustainable model, because no matter how much data you collect about your audience, if the audience isn't specific, the ads can't be, either. Witness MySpace's projected $20 million in ad sales. According to Business 2.0, it's working because MySpace attracts primarily what it refers to as "16- to 34-year-old hipsters." The Web is becoming an elitist sort of space. If social networking sites are a way to bring the masses together, advertisers are begging for a way to prune those masses into smaller, easier targets.

4. Strangers kind of suck (or, put nicely, the social hierarchy is really not that attractive)
Speaking of elitism, getting to know people is, frankly, a less attractive proposal than it first seems. Sure, business networking is valuable, and it's great to have a lot of resources who might know someone who can help you with...something. But that argument gets a little thin when you're suddenly bombarded with date offers or all-too-frequent postings about the unsavory or just plain uninteresting habits of the strangers you suddenly know. Moreover, social networking sites pretty quickly and inevitably degenerate into cliques. That's normal, it happens on the blogosphere, and it's not really even that deplorable. It's just kind of tiresome on a daily basis. If you restrict your friends list to only the people you already know, well, then the boredom sets in. Why would you read their profiles over and over when you can just IM them, e-mail them, or meet at the baseball game?

5. We already have the Internet
The only lasting argument about social networking that's ever made sense is that these networks are a valuable resource if you're adrift in the sea of online information. You can, in just a few hops, get to someone who knows someone or knows something that you need to know. That may be a valuable proposal in the business world, which gives a site like LinkedIn a better chance of survival than Friendster. But the argument's a little thin in a world where search is the king of the hill. If I need information online, I can find it. And I can probably find it faster using Google than I can by e-mailing one friend who'll e-mail another who'll e-mail another while my deadline slips away. Sure, it's helpful--once in a while. But once I have all these folks in my address book, I won't be much help in terms of ad impressions.

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