RealTime IT News

There Are Too Many Social Networks - or Not

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A new social network seems to pop up every day or even faster, depending on how you define the term. A panel of industry experts debated the future of social media and networking here at the two-day wrap up of the User Generated Content Conference & Expo.

While Facebook, MySpace and a handful of others are readily identified as social networks, social sites on the Web abound whether or not they're recognized as such.

"I think we need to redefine social networks," Richard Jalichandra, president and CEO of blog search engine and resource site Technorati. "I've had friends develop a social network around my Facebook profile without my impetus. I have people who don't know each other but met on my profile page. Now someone I went to kindergarten with is having arguments about Sarah Palin on my wall."

Whatever it's called, greater social connectivity is firmly in place on the Web and seems hell bent for growth, with few exceptions. Fast-growing Ning, for example, is a service that helps individuals and groups create their own social networks. Rachel Masters, vice president of strategic relationships at Ning, noted several companies (e.g. WD-40 Co.) and celebrities (rapper 50 Cent) that have a site on Ning.

But she also said it's not for every company out there. "I don't think every brand should have one," said Masters. "Only if you have a distinct brand or person that people feel passionate about."

Cashing in isn't always about money

When a company does launch a social network it should have a clear idea of expectations. Oren Michels, CEO of