With all the Social Networking sites around these days, it could become pretty overwhelming if you're trying to decide which to use and for what purpose. From Facebook to Myspace to LinkedIn to Hi5 to Friendster, just to name a few, the plethora of options could make your head spin.
I am, or have been, a member of all the Social Networks listed above. For the most part, they are all very similar. They all allow you to create a personal profile with photos and biographical information. Here are some thoughts on each one individually:
Friendster: This is first one I ever signed up for, as it was the first "Social Networking" site that I had ever heard of (though I don't think "social networking" was in our lexicon back then). It was very basic compared to some of the other sites to come after it. You able to add friends, send messages and post "Testimonials" on your friends' profiles.
hi5: The second one I joined, after getting invited by a friend. I didn't know at the time, but this was (and is) the largest Social Network in Latin America. It had a little more flair than Friendster, as it allowed you to send icons and comments to people not on your friend list.
MySpace: This site pretty much started to Social Network "boom" of the middle of the last decade. MySpace allowed users a great deal of freedom to customize their profiles with html code to add wallpapers, pictures, songs, videos and much more. Many sites popped up with tutorials and code-generators for users to copy and use in their profiles. It all of a sudden became acceptable to "friend" total strangers on MySpace, and it was this aspect that caused many to use it as a personal promotion site. Some people have become famous by way of MySpace (Tila Tequila, to name one) and it is used by many musical artists to promote and disseminate their work.
Facebook: Initially only available to students, Facebook opened registration to the general public within the last 3 years. This is one of only two Social Network sites that I check regularly (the other is below). Facebook doesn't have the freedom of customization that MySpace has, but that has worked to its advantage as the member profiles are much less cluttered. Facebook was the first to have "apps" available to users, the most popular of which are games such as Farmville and Scrabble. Facebook is constantly evolving in an attempt to make the user experience as pleasurable as possible.
LinkedIn: This is the least "social" of the Social Networking sites. LinkedIn is a professional networking site where users post some biographical information, but the focus is on education and work experience. I've heard that many HR departments use LinkedIn as a tool to screen potential employees. It is very straight-laced, and instead of friends, comments and wall posts, there are connections and recommendations.
Basically, these sites are what you make of them. If you are looking for a career change, try LinkedIn, if you want to keep in touch with friends and family, or promote your own venture, Facebook and MySpace are the places to go. One thing is certain, Social Networking sites are here to say, and only time will tell how they will evolve in the coming years.
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