Friday, November 16, 2007

Social Butterfly

The term "Social Butterfly" is used to describe someone who befriends everyone, attends every party, every event and is simply well-connected. In fact, in the not-so-well-known Marvel comic book, Livewires, there is an android named "Social Butterfly" - her role is to extract information from individuals using her powers. Well, today, "Social Butterfly" wouldn't need to use force field induced direct brain manipulation or artificial pheromones to accomplish this task....she would simply become a member of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Hi5, Dodgeball, Flickr, Twitter, myYearbook, orkut, WeeWorld, Bebo, Classmates, SecondLife and perhaps even LinkedIn and Doostang. She might even consider getting a Master's Degree in Social Networking - which, believe it or not, is an actual degree offered by the University of Michigan!

I have to admit, I aspire to be somewhat of a social butterfly myself - as a member of nearly half of the social networking sites listed above, I feel I'm as good a candidate as any teenager around the world to offer my unbiased thoughts on some of these sites.

Let's start with the one that has been in the spotlight the most in recent weeks. The applications available on Facebook are endless. And did you know that there is actually a class offered at Stanford University dedicated to teaching students how to build Facebook applications?? Mark Zuckerberg, the lucky 23-year-old, took the social networking trend to a whole new level by somehow getting the world to work for him...for free! Of course, there can always be improvements, such as searching within your own friends to see who is in your neighborhood for the weekend - similar to what 2 NYU students did with their start-up, Dodgeball (now owned by Google, of course!). Perhaps this application already exists and I just haven't come across it yet....but in any case, I have no doubt that if it doesn't, someone young genius will create it the very near future. Either way, I'm addicted, as are 73.5M other users.

Perhaps I just haven't explored this site enough, but to tell you the truth, I just never got addicted the way I did to Facebook. I was sucked into creating a profile for MySpace because my 10 Year High School reunion committee decided that this would our online portal for all reunion details! Well, of course since all my former high school friends would be visiting my page, I had make an effort to make my page look amazing. So I, with the reunion come and gone, I seldom find myself visiting or updating my MySpace page. With nearly 300M MySpace pages online, I'm definitely in the minority.

Ahhh, my love before Facebook. I visited religiously and thought the idea of putting the "6 degrees of separation" theory to the test online was pure genius. There was, of course, developed in the late 1990s, but they were just too ahead of their time to really make an impact. Nevertheless, despite Friendster's timely launch and innovative approach, the young geniuses of MySpace and Facebook quickly out-performed by creating more creative applications and allowing users to personalize their pages with more flexibility. Friendster followed the trends, but in the fast-paced world of online social networking, they were already too late...still 26.5M users remain loyal.

Just when all the social networking sites were coming into the mainstream, we all wondered, "why didn't anyone think of this before??" Well, they did - launched in the mid-1990s but their demise came in the form of something green. They started charging real money for full access to the site. They had missed mark on this one - with the target market being young high school kids or poor college students, who has the ability to pay as much as $19.99 for a monthly membership? Sorry, Classmates, the idea was great, but the execution was off target... but who am I to judge, they still have 40M accounts.

I love this site for two main reasons: 1) it takes social networking to another level by being predominately on the mobile platform and 2) it was created by two NYU graduate students thus making me feel more proud being an NYU graduate student, myself. Needless to say, this operation has been and is still a success...after all, Google bought them, didn't they? They're only just getting started!

What a fun social networking site!! Crazy addictive and 1.7M others agree - I could keep changing my "WeeMe" forever! As you can see from the picture with this post, that is my "WeeMe" right now - it's always changing to reflect my current mood. Today, well, I'm feeling like a true butterfly and am in the mood for a Margarita...and of course, my blackberry is always in hand. The fallback here, WeeWorld is making the same mistake as Classmates, they are charging real money to purchase new clothes and accessories for your "WeeMe"

I joined and came up with a great avatar name and then the frustration began. Has anyone else found it difficult to move around in SecondLife and make your avatar look drop dead gorgeous like everyone else walking around? My avatar is way out of proportion and horribly dressed - not a fan and as addicted as I expected to become to this site, it never occurred. And even more frustrating...Linden Dollars? Seriously?? Just because you call it something other that "The Real Dollar" doesn't make it less real - it's still real money that's being used to dress and house a made-up character. I'm still in awe of the Second Life realtor who made $1M real American dollars on the site!

I could go on to provide my thoughts on more social networking sites, but there's no need. I think it's clear that I'm ridiculously impressed with Facebook and that's where I'll be spending my time. See you there!


Miss Hollyhood said...

Dear Social Butterfly,
Do you know of a way we could become friends with the young 23 year old who created Facebook? I could really use someone like him in my entourage.
Miss H. Hills