Trust the internet gods on this: the social networking sites will continue to evolve and attract more users. The question is, which one will stay on top when the next millions of users sign up?
Facebook, which has been around since 2004, had 160.8 million unique visitors in June. LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors in the same month, while MySpace had less than 33.5 unique visits. Coming in fourth is Twitter, with 30.6 million unique visits. Interestingly, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, Kevin Thau, had previously stressed that Twitter is not a social network but a channel for news content and information. However, the average internet user sees Twitter as just another Facebook competition; to others, it is Facebook 2.0.
A social networking site or a social network is a multipurpose virtual platform created to encourage people to communicate and share with each other endless stream of information and various forms of entertainment, such as amusing or meaningless shout outs, homemade videos, personal photos, and anything viral in the internet. These top-ranked social networking sites may differ in terms of focus and thrust, but they offer essentially the same things to their users.
As the social network competition heats up, internet users can only enjoy a better and more active social interaction online. It is easy to imagine the internet gods being busy doing either one or both of these two things: overseeing operations in their own social networking site and /or picking up improvement ideas from competing networks. Facebook, the most popular social network, has over 750 million active users as of July 2011. That is not even ten percent of the world population today. Considering the internet itself has yet to gain popularity in some remote areas around the world and the next year could produce a fresh batch of internet users and social network junkies, the brains and genius of social networks are on their toes. How do you keep your members and how do you get millions more?
For the average user, a social networking site should be effective in three fundamentals: easy navigation, zero down time, and a reliable search system. If the social network is easy to navigate for a technophobe grandparent, then that’s brilliant! If its Instant Messaging system doesn’t lag or die in the middle of a chat and if photos can be uploaded without hassle, then that’s fantastic. If it can yield the right person in search results when the only information submitted is the name of a university, then users will definitely keep coming back. Facebook is a top favorite for these very reasons.
Users who join social networks do so for three things: easy access to loved ones and long lost friends, unlimited media sharing and a dependable shout out channel for promotion of any kind – personal or professional. Facebook and Twitter fit the bill just right, MySpace seems to be a favorite of indie and upcoming artists, while LinkedIn is perceived as the social network to join for job hunting and business promotion purposes. It seems there is something for everyone. Anything new is an improvement or a niche version of the existing social networks.
One logs on to Facebook, and voila – the latest shout outs, photos and even national news are displayed. You want to see a steady stream of concise information, go to Twitter. You want to enjoy a “personal website” look and feel to your music page, you log on to MySpace. For self-promotion and industry exposure, LinkedIn is a great network. It is way too early to describe Google+ but if only for its simple process for classifying everyone in the network, it deserves a long good look until it’s out of its beta stage.
The best shout out right now is your social network wishlist. The internet gods are listening.