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Monday, October 09, 2006


Dissecting Online Social Networks

Interesting to note that we've now gotten to the point where online social networks are notable for more than simply being the Next Big Thing.

Up to this point, the main aspect of any stories concerning MySpace, Facebook or any of the other sites was concern over inadvertant loss of privacy and exposure to creepy people.

Now this phenonenon appears to be maturing. Best evidence of that: online users are being ranked, categorized and profiled. The better to sell to, my dear.

The International Business Times reports that significant age differences exist between the users of the different sites.

From the article: "While the top social networking sites are typically viewed as directly competing with one another, our analysis demonstrates that each site occupies a slightly different niche," commented Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix.

What's surprising is how those demographics measure up. If you've been hearing talk that MySpace users were older than expected, you weren't imagining it. It's true. Close to 70% of MySpace and Friendster users are 25 and older.

Who's attracting the high school crowd?, a social networking site out of New York City. Xanga started WAY back in 1998 as a music-sharing service. It has since evolved into what it is today: the 42nd most popular website in the world with 27 million users.

Flanagan again: "There is a misconception that social networking is the exclusive domain of teenagers, but this analysis confirms that the appeal of social networking sites is far broader."

That misconception wasn't always so. these sites DID start out with the teen early-adopter crowd, but the demo has changed for several reasons. One: protective parents became wary of their kids' sites and pulled the plus. Two: Older adults saw what the kids were doing and adapted the technoplogy for their own uses.

The fact that these sites are now skewing older simply confirms that they are migrating into the cultural mainstream.

You've heard of MySpace... but have you heard of Xanga? It's what all the cool kids are doing these days.

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