I’m sure many have jumped into the bandwagon signing up for all the social web sites (Facebook anyone?). And if you make your own web site, you definitely want to latch on to this phenomenon. But are all these social web sites crack out to be? What are they good for anyway?
Meeting up with a group of friends one night, our chatting topic veered to Facebook and then we asked whether any of us has Facebook account and could we link up to each other. Some of my friends soon quip that Facebook is really waste a lot of time. You could spend hours playing with apps but end up not doing anything productive.
That’s pretty true I suppose. I myself have wasted time on it too initially just to find out what it is all about. As a social tool for keeping in touch it is quite alright. However as a marketing tool, they do not seem to fulfil a web site objective of promoting a web site. Still you never know you might get a trickle of inbound links and perhaps some incoming link for crawlers and robots to boost a tiny portion of your Google page rank. However some social web sites are getting smarter and using the rel=”nofollow” tag to stop the abuse of web spamming, just too bad for legitimate web site owners like us.
Building a web site is a slow process, so whatever incoming links however small or negligible would help in some small ways. However to put too much effort to use these services would definitely be a waste of time. There are other uses, of course, if it is not used for the objective of promoting an online web site business. They could be used for keeping track of your close friends and see what they have been up to lately. To keep together your social circle of friends and to keep in touch. That’s the original premise of what a social web site was made for anyway. Though some enterprising businesses try to find innovative idea to use these social web sites to promote their business but somehow as a promotional tool it may not be as effective. Still any little bit helps, and besides it is free to use and there is no restriction except that if the business is too pushy with their promotional effort, they may get a negative backlash. Any promotional tool whether free or otherwise has to be used with some sensibility or face alienation from potential prospects.
As a listing of social web sites here are some with some brief explanation:
- Facebook.com — This one is very famous, it is a must to sign up. With its add-on apps to increase its functionality and increase the online social interactivity you can actually stay better in touch with friends and have fun at the same time. As a developer, you could create apps to increase your business exposure too. The downside? Wasting too much time adding apps and responding to pokes and game challenges. Sign up, yes by all means, explore the apps for awhile. Then later delete less interesting ones, and ignore apps that don’t fulfil your requirement. Apps that link back to your blogs and other external web sites are worth exploring.
- Friendster.com — Though older than Facebook, this one is still quite popular. It is easy to use and less cluttered than Facebook. They do have some add-on apps but not many. Very good for keeping in touch and won’t waste so much time.
- Tagged.com — Not so useful for keeping in touch. Clunky interface make it difficult to use. I signed up because other friends kept bugging me to join. Now I keep it in cold storage. I receive emails from Tagged.com every so often but those invites are from people I don’t know and look more like porn site promoting their site. I just ignore them.
- Hi5.com — Didn’t like this one either. The interface is a little bit better than Tagged.com but still not outstanding. Fortunately I don’t get as much bugging promo emails from Hi5.com compared with Tagged.com and that is just fine for me.
- Twitter.com — Micro blogging anyone? Uh, just what is micro blogging anyway? Twitter only allows a max of 140 characters. What?! That’s really short but that’s what it means by Twittering, just a tweet for others to follow and not make big long announcement. Short announcement. Really short. Just enough to let people know what you are up to. Is it really useful? Some people says it does. However I can’t seem to factor it into a promo tool equation. After all, you could make short announcement in your Facebook or in your MSN messenger. As a web site made solely on short announcement for people to follow seems a little offbeat. Sign on anyway just to make short announcements! Ha-ha! As an added usefulness, you can link it to Facebook and put a twitter badge on your web site too!
- Jaiku.com — Similar to Twitter but at this moment still in beta testing stage. Can’t really review it because sign up is by invitation only. Its interesting feature is that you could install their app into your Symbian S60v3 phone like Nokia E66 or even a Java enabled phone.
- Placeshout.com — Another micro blogging site with a twist. As per their name is about shouting out a place, a location where you can rant or rave about the place. And the places to shout about? Mostly restaurants located in USA and Europe. Not so useful for Asia Pacific and Australian region.
- Yelp.com — Another restaurant micro blogging site. Similar to Placeshout. Usefulness? USA only.
- Delicious.com — Social bookmarks started off as some geeks who put up their favourite bookmarks online to share with friends and family and it spawn a new idea and web site about sharing personal bookmarks online. In time it also became a place where you could use it to promote a bit of your web site too, however with the rel=”nofollow” in the link you can’t use it to raise your Google page rank, but still a good way to check your web site popularity and see how many people save your site on their delicious bookmark.
- Digg.com — Similar to delicious.com but not as a bookmarking site but more like a popularity contest. The more people digg your site or article, it gets promoted to their frontpage which in turn increases more exposure to your web site or article web page.
- Stumbleupon.com — Similar to digg.com and well as per namesake, while happily browsing around, you stumble upon some interesting website or page and decided it is worth sharing with others.
- Flickr.com — Now part of Yahoo and quite a popular social photography web site. As a hobby site to share and showcase your photography ability. Could also be use in conjunction with your photography or travel related web site. Usefulness? Get a kick out of the number of people admiring your photos.
- YouTube.com — Video blogging site. Most popular, though there are many others online as well. Now part of Google. Supposedly can link with your adsense account but so far it didn’t work for me. Trying out another video blogging site that can link with adsense. One thing nice is you could see the number of people who viewed your video and get a kick out of it. And of course you could link it to Facebook to show up as updates on your Facebook wall.
- LinkedIn.com — This one is different from Facebook. This is where professional network to look for jobs and contract. Call this business version of Facebook. This is a no nonsense social web site. It would do no good to have your partying photo shown to potential employers or business associate would it? This is where you post your work experience and show your best foot forward.
There are a lot more social web sites around. Way too many to check them all out. And each has its own idiosyncrasies and speciality. Which is useful to you and which one is not is hard to say. You just have to test them out for awhile. After all they are free (except for your wasted time).