Linkedin Ning Facebook

LNF

Social networking sites have evolved overtime. Some rapidly and very successfully, while others faded away in this brutal competitive environment, such as MySpace from $580 million in 2005 down to $35 million in 2011. It is hard to predict which product will be successful, given the rapidly changing environment. What is given is that the more niche market a products serves, the more likely it is to survive; at least for the short term. The long tail distribution rules the market and helps new comers to the scene. Below are three products that serve a specific niche. Interestingly enough, niche products are expanding beyond their original scope; each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Linkedin, $972 million (2012), Alexa ranking (14)

Linkedin today is the de facto standard for professional connections, a social contact network consisting of users’ direct connections as well as second and third degree connections. Members can upload photos, resumes, set up profiles, portfolios and experiences, which can lead to future business opportunities through recommendations, keyword searches or contacts. Employers may share news, list job openings and seek potential candidates. Individuals can follow companies and receive notifications on upcoming jobs. One feature that users may dislike is living a public life. For example, even though I do post information about myself on Linkedin, having a public record of one’s life has its drawbacks. I don’t look forward to the marketing and sales force to leverage that familiarity to their advantage. Such as, “I understand you like cycling,… I used to own a tricycle myself…” which can be vexing at times. However, Linkedin does indeed stand up to its slogan “Relationships Matter.”

Ning, $30.0 million (2011 est.), Alexa ranking (414)

Ning uses custom templates to serve individuals or communities that wish to form a group around a common cause. Individuals joining the organization can form their own profiles if they wish. Ning can interface with other products such as: Facebook, Twitter, and Google for account interface as well content interface with products such as YouTube, Vimeo, MySpace, and SoundCloud. Examples include:

It is worth noting that ISTE discontinued the use of Ning due to its unjustifiable cost and expenses. As it stands today, in this ever-changing market, Ning does not stand up to tis slogan: “The World’s Largest Platform for Creating Social Websites.”

Facebook, Revenue $5.1 billion (2012), Alexa ranking (2)

What is there new to say about Facebook, the most popular social networking tool today? Perhaps, Mark Zukerburger’s interest in Graph Search is most noteworthy. Whereby, the user searches for content through Facebook users’ interests and experiences rather than the search term itself. On a personal note, my sister-in-law hated computers with a passion for decades. Even though her brother and her husband are both avid computer scientists. Facebook was the disruptive force she was waiting for. Today, she has more followers than one can fathom. Through Facebook she learned everything she needed to know about computers, smart devices, photo uploading, international communication, data tracking, music on the Internet, business presence on the net, and the list goes on. The avid computer scientists now ask her questions about Facebook. Remarkably this social networking tool that was born at Harvard through some questionable connection has found its way as a business force and data shows it is only second to Google on user searches. The lesson learned here is the appropriate application can bring anyone around to endorse technology, even in the classroom. Many companies and non-profit organizations now have a presence on Facebook to communicate with their constituents. Parents, teachers, and students can all benefit from this environment. It is bridging the gap between personal and professional presence. Most schools in my district now have a Facebook link. To help resolve some of these challenges, Facebook has setup secret groups, member groups, as well as public groups based on user’s needs.

In my district we strictly ask staff to keep a separate personal and professional presence to avoid potential pitfalls. Now even some students keep double Facebooks. One is for parents and family members, another using an alias for their friends. Even those who keep a single site communicate with their friends using code-language such as keywords from movies and lyrics that is meaningful to their own social network. Facebook delivers on its slogan “Read. Watch. Listen”, even though what you read, watch and listen may not be decodable by all.

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