Friday, March 8, 2013

SixDegrees.com and Friendster are the "Grandaddies" of Social Network Sites.


     When you think social network, the first thing that comes to mind are sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. What about Friendster, eCrush, and SixDegrees.com? Do you even know what any of these are? The history of social network sites essentially began with SixDegrees.com.


Six degrees of separation is the concept behind the social network service known as SixDegrees.com. 
     Created in 1997, SixDegrees.com was developed by CEO of MacroView the company, Andrew Weinreich. At the center of all social networks, MacroView created a web of contacts that allowed users to connect with friends, family, and acquaintances on the site. It allowed its users to create a profile, send messages, and post bulletin board items to their first, second, and third degrees. At the time, there were already dating sites and online communities, such as AIM, that included profiles and friend lists, but none of them allowed others to view friends.  After reaching a nearly 1,000,000-membership population, SixDegrees.com was bought out by YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million. Unfortunately, the social network pioneer failed to have a sustainable business due to its leader position in the social network industry. The lack of people online was not able to establish enough online friend networks. Today, YouthStream has “restarted” SixDegrees.com and only keeps it open to people who had previous membership or whom previous members invite. Another group of social network pioneers were sites AsianAvenue and BlackPlanet, which were created in 1999. 

AsianAvenue and BlackPlanet were the beginning of goal-oriented social network sites. 
     Both sites specialized in specific demographics. For example, BlackPlanet was created to connect people of the black community. AsianAvenue followed this same idea of community identity. These goal-oriented social network sites fit in the categories of socializing and networking social networks. The sites that fit in the socializing category are created for recreational social communication between its members. On the other hand, sites that fall into the networking category aren’t meant as much for socializing, but more for interpersonal communication. The main goal of networking social network sites is to find new contacts. The best example of a networking site, today, is LinkedIn. Just three years later, the next of the pioneering social network sites, Friendster, was created.

Freindster was considered one of the original and even the “granddaddy” of social network sites. 


     The name Friendster was derived from a mix of “friend” and Napster. Napster was a controversial site at the time, popular for it’s peer-to-peer file sharing. It was practically a household word due to the number of high-profile lawsuits filed against it. Friendster allowed its users to contact other users and share online content and media with those contacts. It was used for dating and discovering new events, bands, and hobbies. Within the first few months of the launch of Freindster, it had generated about three million users. It remained in the number one spot until the creation of MySpace in 2004. At the base of Friendster was the “circle of friends” technique for networking individuals in virtual communities, demonstrating the small world phenomenon. Similar to the “six degrees of separation,” the small world phenomenon was a group of experiments conducted to examine the average path length for social networks of people in the United States. The study was groundbreaking and concluded that the world is a small-world-type network characterized by short path-lengths.

2003 marked the explosion of the emergence of various competitive social network sites. Friendsters new competitors provided even more options for diverse communication and involvement features. Some of these competitors included Windows Live Spaces, Yahoo! 360, and Facebook.  In 2003, Google offered $30 million to buy out Friendster but the owners refused. Friendster was reported to have a value of $53 million. Despite it’s numerous strides to globalize and reach audiences in other countries in Asia, Friendster suffered significantly from the rise of Facebook. It was eventually bought out by MOL Global, one of Asia’s biggest Internet companies, and shifted to expansion in Asia. It discontinued all its user social network accounts and became a social gaming site.

The main challenges of survival for social network sites, such as SixDegrees.com and eCrush, were creating high customer value in an extremely competitive market and generating enough revenue to maintain a business. 
     New social Network sites are constantly popping up. In order to stay relevant and popular among online users, sites must create user satisfaction among its target group by constantly evolving and keeping up with new technology. Although Friendster wasn’t able to generate as much popularity as sites like Facebook and Twitter, it pioneered many of the different methods to generate revenue by advertising. Some the advertising strategies it adopted were pop up ads, contextual ads from Google, sponsored links in the web search, and an upgrade in Friendster blog (a product selling service of Friendster). Some of these strategies are still used, today, by the top social network sites, as well as the use of newer revenue generation methods. Premium membership is an example.
            Although sites like SixDegrees.com and Friendster aren’t as relevant in the US as they use to be, they paved the way for a new and more advanced group of social network sites. It’s hard to say whether these sites could gain Facebook popularity because of how far they’ve declined in the past years. Maybe not in the United States, but Friendster has popularized itself greatly in Asia with 8.2 million users. I personally believe that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach popularity levels of sites like Twitter and Facebook because of the amount of time Friendster and SixDegrees.com have been off the market or not in the public eye. It would take something extremely innovative or some type of new technology to create a wave of followers to switch from Twitter and Facebook to Friendster or SixDegrees.com

4 comments:

  1. I found Alexis’s post to be very informative, and I learned about the history of social networking before websites like Facebook and Twitter which I use today. The timeline set up of the post was very helpful and each paragraph seemed to build off of the last making the post easy to read. The subheadings also were well stated so that scanners would comprehend the basis of the post without having to read all of it. What I did find to be missing were substantial links to outside sources. There were a few links, but I did not find that they added to the conversation of social networking. Perhaps including links to articles on the popularity or business models of the websites would be helpful. The author also could have included more graphics to draw readers into the post and keep them engaged with the content. Overall, I enjoyed the wrap up at the end as well as how the author brought up the point of bringing back other social networking sites into popularity again. This added a “so what?” factor to the story and made the reader consider their stance on the question.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like your post very much. I found the title and subheads to be explicit and informative. I have also found the overall post to be clear and concise. The embedded link did extend the post very well and I did learn a lot about the history of social networking. The picture that list the dates of major social networking sites is awesome.
    It is very intriguing that social media started with SixDegrees and Friendster and it spread to Facebook and Twitter dominating our digital social interactions. For example, Facebook reached a billion users in 2012! Social media has come of age with more people utilizing smartphones and tablets to access social networks. Even as of right now, new sites are emerging and catch on. Personally, how I feel about social media is that it is too often where people are utilizing social media to replace in person meetings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really like the way that Alexis's post is formatted, in a timeline just like her first graphic, which is also very informative. It was nice to read the history of social networking sites and how the past sites differed from the ones of today, such as Facebook. I think that the links were descriptive enough and served their purpose and I also really enjoyed the graphics that you used. I liked that you mentioned how the older networking sites that are no longer popular here in the U.S. are still popular in other countries. It would be interesting to see if they had any information as to why that may be and if it is equally as popular as or more popular there now than when it was at its peak here in America.

    ReplyDelete
  4. thnx for the information..
    blog is really gud.
    Social Networking Site



    ReplyDelete