A SITE FOR EVERY PURPOSE – Working the Crowd


Wherever you look there appear to be sites for connecting and engaging, yet I’ve only mentioned a few so far. Instead of researching an exhaustive list containing every different online interaction site I can find, I’ll talk about a few. I’ve grouped some of the more popular online interaction sites below into the types of activities that they tend to be used for. This list isn’t exhaustive, however; there are thousands of social networking sites, and the list is changing all the time. Wikipedia has a more comprehensive list and the main countries where these sites are popular, but it too is out of date. Here are the main popular sites at the moment.

Business networks

LinkedIn , with over 55 million registered users throughout the world, is considered the premier business networking site. There are opportunities to get introduced to new connections through your existing network, look for a job, or ask questions from industry experts. These connections can consist of your direct connections, their connections (your second degree connections) and their connections (your third degree connections). LinkedIn is mainly used to find jobs, to recommend others in your network and receive recommendations for your work. Recommendations on your profile are useful if you’re looking for a new Recruiters and potential employers use these recommendations to determine how many people have recommended you, and they use the details on your profile to gauge your suitability for a role.

Ecademy is a business community founded in 1998 and claims to have ‘millions of users‘. It enables business people to connect through online networking. It uses connections from its membership to invite its members to business networking events and offers one to one meetings between its users. It offers a community that connects, refers and helps one another.

Xing is a business network with over 8 million members. Users connect using the six degrees of separation theory and have the ability to view upcoming events and search for other members. Like other networks, Xing allows them to advertise their skills and request connections across the site.

Ryze has over 500,000 members in specialist groups. It advertises the fact that members can ‘rise up‘ through quality business networking. The site offers interaction, the chance to make connections and grow your networks. It offers networks on topics as diverse as ‘A joke a day‘, ‘Women in Networking‘ and ‘MLM (Multi Level Marketing) for serious Network Marketers‘.


Ning is a site dedicated to building your own online community site where your users can congregate. These customised sites can be used for social clubs, committees, leisure activities and hobbyist sites. There are options to customise your site and to make it individual and eye-catching for your visitors.

Mumsnet is a site designed for parents. Anyone with children can register on the site and discuss parenting, childcare, contraception and issues of the day. In the run up to the 2010 general election in the UK, each political party was invited to answer questions on the site. Topics ranged from what each party’s manifesto for mothers would be to what specific benefits for childcare they could expect to see with the new government.

Friends and family

Facebook , with over 600 million users, is a huge social site for personal and business use. It was initially used as a closed network within a walled garden for students at US universities, but the site was subsequently opened to all in 2005. It categorises users into different networks which can be towns, workplaces, companies or schools. Facebook has a huge number of applications written by developers to enhance the social nature of the site, using games quizzes and other methods to engage. Many companies use Facebook pages for business.

Bebo (‘blog early blog often‘) is a social networking site which has been adopted by younger teens and children to socialise with their friends. They can customise their profiles with modules, quizzes and groups, with the opportunity to include a lifestream platform and timeline. A lifestream is a collection of items uploaded to the site and displayed in chronological order. Items can include video, photos, blog entries, notes and links. Bebo takes the privacy of its users very seriously and subscribes to Internet safety initiatives for children.

Friendster was created in 2002 and was an early attempt to connect friends and family together. It enabled you to meet new people by connecting to the friends of your friends, thereby taking advantage of the second degree network to extend your own circle of friends. It was initially designed to be an online dating site, but there was a rise in people who created fake identities on the site. This increase in‘fakesters‘ destroyed the ability to effectively connect real people using their social graph. Its popularity has waned in the US, but the site is still growing in Asia and has almost 120 million users.

Hi5 is a popular site for people to connect mainly in Latin America. It allows users to create an online profile, share photos and set up music streams on their profile.

Orkut , which is owned by Google, is very popular in Latin America and especially in Brazil. It is also very popular in India, but less so around the rest of the world. The site can be customised with themes to reflect particular tastes, you can add videos to your profile and employ a ranking scheme to grade your friends on a popularity scale. Orkut has had issues with spam applications in the past, and has been banned in some countries due to the lack of privacy controls, particularly over photos of women and concerns over ethical issues.


Shelfari is a site dedicated to book lovers. It is owned by Amazon and allows users to build virtual bookshelves of the books they love. Shelfari allows bibliophiles to engage in discussions with other users and make recommendations on books to read.


Wikipedia is the epitome of social media concepts where the collective knowledge of the community is freely given to benefit all. Wikipedia started in 2001, and thousands of contributors have created a changing encyclopaedia. This dynamic online book is used by over 340 million people per month and is the fifth most read website in the world. There are over 13 million articles, 78% of which are written in languages other than English. The non-profit organisation is supported entirely by donations from its users who, in 2009, gave over $7.5 million to keep the infrastructure running and to try and maintain free access ‘to the sum of all human knowledge‘.10


Foursquare is the current mobile device darling for announcing where you are. It operates in a similar way to Brightkite and Gowalla, which are also location announcing applications designed for mobile devices. It offers location based status updates for you to record the places you have visited. It also offers the opportunity to upload photos from that location and comment on the site. Friends can then receive alerts about your location. Identi.ca also allows you to upload microblog status updates from wherever you are.


MySpace is a very popular site frequented by Generation Y and Z, and with musicians. Musicians have the ability to upload their entire catalogue of songs for download as MP3 files and to create playlists of their songs. Artists like Lilly Allen and Sean Kingston were initially discovered on MySpace, and many more have come to prominence from this site. The site appeals to teens and young adults due to the ability to heavily customise their profiles and their online page which is organised and used like a bedroom. This flexibility has kept MySpace popular with Generation Y and Z despite the growth of Facebook—which has an interface which is much less customisable.

Last.fm is a music streaming site which recommends music according to your personal tastes. If you flag that you like a particular singer, then other songs from singers of a similar genre will be streamed to you. Any song you don’t like will be removed from your individual playlist and there are opportunities to share your favourite music with others in your network by tagging your songs.


Plurk is a Twitter-like microblogging tool which shows user timelines and conversation history. It allows you to set your mood and track your followers’ moods also. It is popular in Asia, but less so in Europe and the US.

There are thousands more of these sites, covering every genre imaginable. With the perpetual beta of Web 2.0, new sites pop up weekly and less popular sites fade from prominence. There are some sites that seem to have withstood the test of time. These sites cater for our primary business needs. Buying and selling things.