Profile-based social networking servicesProfile-based services are primarily organised around members’ profile pages – pages that mainly consist of information about an individual member, including the person’s picture and details of interests, likes and dislikes. Bebo, Facebook and MySpace are all good examples of profile-based services.
Users develop their spaces in various ways, and can often contribute to each other’s spaces, typically leaving text, embedded content or links to external content through message walls, comment or evaluation tools. Users often include third-party content (in the form of widgets) to enhance their profiles or as a way of including information from other web services and social networking services. Content-based social networking services
In these services, the user’s profile remains an important way of organising connections, but plays a secondary role to the posting of content. Photo-sharing site Flickr
is an example of this type of service, one in which groups and comments are based around pictures. Many people have empty Flickr accounts and signed up to the service to view their friends’ or family’s permission-protected pictures. Shelfari
is one of the current crop of book-focused sites, with the member’s “bookshelf” being a focal point of each member’s profile.
Other examples of content-based communities include YouTube.com for video sharing and last.fm, in which the content is arranged by software that monitors and represents the music that users listen to. In last.fm, content is generated by the user’s activity. The act of listening to audio files creates and updates profile information (“recently listened to”). This in turn generates data about an individual user’s “neighbours” – people who have recently listened to the same kind of music. White-label social networking services
Most social networking services offer some group-building functionality, which allows users to form mini-communities within sites.
Platforms such as PeopleAggregator
, which launched in 2004, offer members a different model. These sites offer members the opportunity to create and join communities. Users can create their own “mini-MySpaces”– small-scale social networking sites that support specific interests, events or activities. Setting up and running a social networking service also means increased responsibility and liability of the creator or host for on-site activity.
These sites offer members the opportunity to create and join communities – this means that users can create their own “mini-MySpace’s”, small scale, personalised social networking sites about whatever the creator wants them to be about. Multi-user virtual environments
Sites such as Second Life
and World of Warcraft
– online virtual environments – allow users to interact with each other’s avatars. (An avatar is a virtual representation of the site member.) Although the users have profile cards, their functional profiles are the characters they customise or build and control. Friends lists are usually private and not publicly shared or displayed. Mobile social networking services
Many social networking sites, for example MySpace
, offer mobile phone versions of their services, allowing members to interact with their friends via their phones. Increasingly, too, there are mobile-led and mobile-only communities, which include profiles and media-sharing just as with web-based social networking services. MYUBO
, for example, allows users to share and view video over mobile networks Micro-blogging/presence updates
Micro-blogging services such as Twitter
allow you to publish short (140 characters, including spaces) messages publicly or within contact groups. These services are designed to work as mobile services, but are popularly used on the web as well.
Many services offer status updates – short messages that can be updated to let people know what mood you are in or what you are doing. These can be checked within the site, read as text messages on phones, or exported to be read or displayed elsewhere. They engage users in constantly updated conversation and contact with their online networks. Social search
Social search engines are an important web development which utilise the popularity of social networking services. There are various kinds of social search engine, but sites like Wink
generate results by searching across the public profiles of multiple social networking sites, allowing the creation of web-based dossiers on individuals. This type of people search cuts across the traditional boundaries of social networking site membership, although any data retrieved should already be in the public domain. What do people do in Social Networking Sites?
- Communicating with existing networks, making and developing friendships/contacts
- Represent themselves online, create and develop an online presence
- Viewing content/finding information
- Creating and customising profiles
- Authoring and uploading content
- Adding and sharing content
- Posting messages – public & private
- Collaborating with other people