It takes a village. How about a community?

I’ve been trying my hand at all the social networking sites that are available these days. I want to get a good understanding of how they work, how they benefit you, how to use them for business or branding initiatives and other things. Ya know, just see what all the hub-bub is all about. Now I boast several account profiles across many different types of social and professional networking sites. A person’s online identity and the identities of others he/she is connected to makes up the new community. Online communities are changing how we do things online.

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As Web 2.0 sprints down the track, Web 3.0 is getting into the blocks and ready to run as well. Today’s web is, obviously, more interactive than ever. Maybe it all started with Excite’s MyExcite, but people want the web customized and personalized for them. They want it to belong to them and they want to belong to something as well. Enter Web 2.0, where you can literally live your life online.

Now more than ever sites like YouTube, flickr, twitter , facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and others are changing the game and membership is growing at alarming rates. These new interactive sites allow members to engage, update, connect, share, and post; constantly changing, unique content. Although not quite ready to be considered portals (which is what is happening, I think), these sites are becoming the go-to home pages for millions of people. Some are social in nature and others, like LinkedIn, are for professional networking.

It is important to make a distinction in your profiles on these sites to suit the intent of the community you are becoming a member of. That picture of you at Mardi Gras on your MySpace page might not look so good as the profile picture for your LInkedIn friends. Most of these sites allow you to search and connect with friends, coworkers, and people with similar interests and many have barriers in place to keep spammers from wreaking havoc over your profile. But as with everything, people only know what you tell them. If you want to live your life full-on, well then you can do just that. But play it safe, and keep those drunken pictures of spring break to yourself.

There are alot of second tier sites that have sprung up in recent years. Social networking is on the rise and many sites are trying to cash in and raise membership levels. Alot of people flocking to newer sites do so for a couple of reasons; one, they are trying to increase their online profiles by branching out to more sites, or two, they’re bored of the MySpace/facebook experience and the are looking for things less mainstream. Alot of your early adopters will bounce to another social network once the buzz turns into something tangible. Some people have to be cutting edge. I’m that way with cell phones, so I can’t hate.

…to be continued.

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