Social Software, Social Networking & Key Sites

Interpersonal interactions, both social and commercial, have changed dramatically in the past 15 years. When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, virtually no one outside of government and academia had e-mail, and in 1998 the Internet and e-commerce were just taking off…

In 2009, we can now watch an evening news segment we missed on You Tube while riding the subway home. For leisure we can play bridge, once a social game, with players on-line from around the world. We can buy merchandise on-line and then provide the world feedback, evaluate products and impact customer perceptions from our wireless phones to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and similar sites.

Research and interest has really just begun on the number of users, devices, sites, behaviors and influence the new social networking phenomena brings to our commercial market.

More importantly for business owners and leaders, studies are beginning to evaluate and understand the commercial impact these new ways of interacting and influencing products and services from this new force that is “outside the company” - and provides a communication infrastructure and forum where people around the world interact about a company‘s products, services, executives, board members and everything in between - and, doing so in the 24/7 “always on” world where time zones merely define light and darkness.

Leading research by Forrester‘s Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff suggests that a groundswell of social and commercial technology-based interactions will redefine a company‘s coveted market strategy, customer satisfaction strategy and eliminate controlling, directing and spinning information about their products and services. The authors refer to this emerging phenomena as Groundswell.

The Groundswell is defined as:

“A spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need - information, support, ideas, products and bargaining power - from each other”

“A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies”

When asked how companies adjust to this unstoppable force, the authors suggest by understanding the basics of what a company is dealing with in a socially connected world, companies can keep up with the changing tides of commerce. In other words, embrace the groundswell and use it to your advantage!

Li and Bernoff go on to say “the internet provides an open forum for the public to freely exchange their opinions and ideas. No longer is your marketing plan driving the thoughts and actions of consumers - consumers are now affecting the thoughts and actions of the companies who depend on their business.”


In Print -
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies - Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
On the web -

Networking Sites

This site provides support for the free software developer. Among its features is informational updates from the programming industry, blog entries and user projects.
Designed as an invitation-only elite networking site, ASmallWorld is a limited network of “like-minded individuals”. Features include a personal messaging service, forums on travel and a calendar of world events.
BlackPlanet is a social networking site for African-Americans. Similar to sites like MySpace and Facebook, BlackPlanet offers personal webpages, blogs and entertainment news.
This website is a free forum for anyone around the world to post their thoughts, ideas and photos. Each personal blog site is customizable with fonts and templates. Popular with amateur journalists and professionals alike, Blogger is even accessible from any mobile phone. Simple email access allows anyone to create a quick blog while on-the-go.
Baby-boomers now have their own networking site in Boomj. Also similar to MySpace and Facebook, the site provides the boomer generation with a connection to others around the world.
Mothers and mothers-to-be use CafeMom to share experiences and ideas. The site offers assistance and information ranging from prenatal care to parenting advice.
Cake Financial
This secure social investment site allows users to track all investments in one place. Users can blog to share their experiences, ask questions or give advice. Cake can also “match you up” with investors with similar portfolios.
Care2 is the largest online green living community. News, petitions and blogs keep the green community up to date. Care2 also supports human rights and animal welfare efforts.
Digg searches the web for content. Whether it appears on or Joe Smith’s blog from North Dakota, Digg can find what you’re looking for. People around the world submit information to the site, allowing Digg to give you the best results on your keyword search.
Experience Project
The purpose of the Experience Project site is to connect people with similar interests or problems. People can share their life experiences, bad and good, while staying anonymous. The site has forums and blog postings for topics ranging from domestic disputes to marriage.
Facebook is a general social networking sites, originally used by college students. Now, the site is even being used by employers curious about their current and potential employees. Users can post pictures, personal information and join groups to connect with others.
Flickr is primarily a photo and video sharing site. Members can edit their photos, print at any Target location and view photos from family and friends.
Friends Reunited
This UK-based site serves as an open forum to meet others around the country. It also has a page specifically for building your family history called Genes Reunited.
Jaiku is a general blog site owned by Google. Users can make friends within the network and post their thoughts on an international forum.
Kaioo is similar to other general social networking sites, but takes an extra step to contribute to society. At the end of every year, Kaioo donates all its advertising profits among 10 charities. Charities are nominated by members and discussed on site forums.
This site focuses on professional networking. LinkedIn connects users with past classmates and co-workers and offers connections to job opportunities. A question/answer section allows LinkedIn members to communicate with industry experts.
With over 17 million journals posted since 1999, LiveJournal is a site that hosts private and public journal entries, photos and video posts. Journals are categorized by topic (i.e. politics, culture, entertainment).
Newsvine provides up-to-the-minute news from around the world. Individuals can update current news stories and post comments. Users can also vote on the top stories of the day.
Plaxo’s Pulse feature allows users of this social network to connect with people by searching other sites like Flickr and Digg. Users can post photos, write reviews of various products and post videos. Pulse will update an individual’s profile on other networking sites to which they belong.
Ryze is a social network that focuses on maintaining business relationships. Members can create a free homepage, or upgrade to advanced access for a few dollars a month. Organizations can use memberships to connect people within their own private network and even publicize events.
This business-driven networking site allows members to search for fellow professionals by name, title, industry or company. Spoke has contact information for over 40 million business people at 2.3 million companies.
Real-time communication sets Twitter apart from other social networking sites. Industry experts call Twitter the “telegraph system of Web 2.0”.
Similar to other blog sites, WordPress is a free forum for those wanting to express thoughts and ideas. Unique to WordPress is a statistical tracking system for users to view their blog’s popularity. The homepage also features various blogs of interest and even allows each member to post their own advertising.
Xing is a worldwide professional network that connects users to potential employers and other industry professionals. Xing offers a professional start page, information on events that other Xing members are attending and a personal calendar to keep track of contacts and appointments.
Yammer hosts company networks so employees can communicate through discussion boards and status updates. Each employee has their own information page and allows other users to search discussion topics to review past conversations posted on discussion boards. The site is password-secure and also grants mobile access.
Yelp, Inc.
Yelp is a business review site that is open to the public. Business categories range from home services to restaurants. Users can post events and participate in discussion boards.
YouTube is a video sharing site that features clips from movies, television shows and even personal postings from its thousands of members.