By Shelley Lowery
Social networking sites seem to be the biggest thing on the Internet right now, and there are no signs that this will change anytime in the near - or far - future. The fact is that social networking sites, such as MySpace, FaceBook, and others, have given people the opportunity to express themselves, meet new people, and communicate effectively, and nobody is going to give that up.
Social networking on the Internet may seem like a new concept to most people - but it really isn't. The first social network appeared on the Internet as far back as 1995, with Classmates. Classmates offers people the opportunity to reconnect with old classmates from High School and College, and is still in operation today - and doing quite well.
From there, social networking advanced with the onslaught of Internet dating sites. However, these days, it has advanced to the point where social networking sites often do not have a specific 'theme.' MySpace, which is by far the most popular social networking site in existence, is an example of this. No matter what your interests are, there is room for you on MySpace.
Social Networking Features
Social networking sites often have common elements. Some have more features than others. In all cases, you are able to create your profile. Sites, such as MySpace, actually allow you to fully customize your profile page, so that it is very unique, using layouts that are available all over the Internet. You can also create your own layout.
Other features include messengers, email systems, blogging features, friend's lists, and comments sections. Some social networking sites will allow you to send individual emails to other site members, or to send broadcast emails out to all of the people on your network or friend's list.
Most social networking sites will allow anyone to join, and are typically free to join. However, there are some that require a fee for membership, such as Ryze, and some that require an invitation from another member, such as Pownce.
Connect with Other Like-Minded People
Many people view social networking sites as 'something to do.' However, they are much more than that. Social networking sites allow members to express and develop identities, to build relationships, to garner trust among their peers, and much more. The social networking sites simply provide the means - it is the members who create the content of the site, making these social networking sites user content driven.
Internet Marketers, large corporations, and even television shows make use of social networking sites. For example, many popular reality television shows have profiles on the more popular social networking sites.
This encourages public participation. They use the concept that 'everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something' and it is successful - because social networking sites allow everyone to be a part of something, regardless of who they are, where they are located, their sex, religion, beliefs, careers, backgrounds, or any other consideration that exists. Everyone who has access to a computer with an Internet connection has a 'voice' and they can use it with ease thanks to social networking sites.
Some of the best known social networking sites include: MySpace, Facebook, hi5, Xanga, linkedin, reunion, friendster, bebo, tagged, and classmates.
Signing up is usually very easy, and only requires you to submit your name, your location, a screen name, a password, and of course a valid email address.
Today, it is estimated that there are more than 200 social networking sites in existence. You can get a more complete list of social networking sites, as well as the 'theme' or group of people that each site caters to and the number of members through Wikipedia. Vist the Wikipedia site and search for social networking websites.
Marketing Via Social Networking Sites
The popularity of social networking sites stems from the Search Engines. The Search Engines love these sites, as they always contain fresh content. What's more, if you look at the Alexa rankings for some of these sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, etc., you will find that they are amoung the most popular sites on the Internet.
Although you can't advertise on these sites, you can create a profile and include a link to your web site. This will provide a great way to not only increase your ranking in the Search Engines, but also drive traffic to your web site.
Social Networking Sites also provide you with a great way to spread your content all over the Internet. For example, you can share your articles, news, and post comments.
The key to using these sites successfully is to create a complete profile that contains a link to your site and an RSS feed. Add fresh content on a regular basis to drive a continuous stream of traffic to your web site.
Copyright © Shelley Lowery
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