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What Will you Need to Start Up a Social Networking Site

As you are most likely already aware of, social networking sites are the hottest buzz on the internet lately. Social networking site is a rather loosely defined term though. What is a social site? Well it is basically a site that revolves around its users. Social networking websites make up five of the top ten sites ranked by traffic on alexa.com.

TOP 10 sites:

  1. Yahoo

  2. Google

  3. You Tube (1)

  4. Windows Live

  5. Facebook (2)

  6. MSN (Microsoft Network)

  7. Myspace (3)

  8. Wikipedia (4)

  9. Blogger.com (5)

  10. Yahoo Japan

That tells us that the top five ranked social networking sites are:

  1. You Tube (established Feb 2005)

  2. Facebook (established Mar 1997)

  3. Myspace (established Feb 1996)

  4. Wikipedia (established Jan 2001)

  5. Blogger (established Jul 2000)

You tube is a video sharing site. Face book is a site where users upload their profiles and are encouraged to share gossip, links and videos. Myspace is a social networking site where users go to meet other users and they too are encouraged to upload video, links and gossip. Myspace also has an impressive collection of nearly 50,000 music videos in a cornucopia of local and national talent. Wikipedia is a user contributed encyclopedia. It contains all user written articles on any variety of subjects you can imagine. Users go there to share their knowledge. They can write original articles or even edit existing ones. Blogger.com is a site users go to and create their own personal blog. There is a wide variety of subjects on Blogger.com. With your own blog, you can share any opinion or thought you desire with the entire world. Of course the more popular the subject matter, the more hits(traffic) you will get on the blog.

In the above paragraph, where I wrote a couple of sentences about each of the top five social networking websites, you may have noticed that the one word I inevitably used to describe each and every social site was: "SHARE". User's desire to share their hobbies, interests, videos, music, knowledge and thoughts with others is huge. It makes sense that these types of social networking sites would be some of the most successful sites on the internet after so many ecommerce sites have failed throughout the years. The internet is driven by what its users want. The fact of the matter is, users want free stuff! Hardly anyone goes to the internet thinking, "how much money can I spend today?" Mostly, they are thinking, "what can I get for free off the internet today?" or "Where can I download free music or movies?" So, the millions of users have spoken and driven online sales for social networking websites up into the billions indicating that not all users are only seek free services and items from the internet. Although a large portion of social networking revenues are from advertising dollars, the end result is that users are spending more money online overall.

According to a report on Techcrunch.com, Myspace alone took in revenues of $755 million in the last year as of June, 2008. Techcrunch.com also predicts that Facebook will take in about $255 million this year. So, as you can see, the market size for social networks is huge and promising. How can you get in on the action?

The basic functionality of a social networking site is:
1) Users must be able to register and log in.
2) They have to be able to create a profile, preferably with photos.
3) They have to be able to share something or many things with other users.
4) Ultimately a social site should facilitate communication via the internet and via the site itself. Chat, forums and message boards are the best examples.
5) There must be some way for the site to earn profits to at least support itself. Commonly this is done through advertising on the network. Other ideas are paid membership and site related merchandising.

If you can achieve those five aspects in a social network site, you are getting off to a good start. Then the biggest asset you can have to make the site a success is, in my opinion, flexibility, or the ability to change and be innovative. Innovation is the key word you will hear in every entrepreneurship seminar throughout the world. Innovation is particularly important in social networking sites. Since the sites have only been popular over the past ten years, there is not a huge amount of data to go on and all of the great ideas are taken, so to be successful in the online social networking market, you are going to have to come up with an original idea.

We have covered what functionality your social site will have to have to work, now all you need to know is: What physical components will you need to start a social networking site? Of course, you will need either a web server or a web host. I would lean towards the need to have an actual web server for making a social networking site due to the unlimited potential for growth and the number of users that you will need to be a success. You would be much better off having your own web server. The fact of the matter is, you can probably put up a web server for a lot cheaper than what it is going to cost you to pay for a dedicated server for several years. It is true you may want to start out with a web host and see how it goes before launching your own web server, but if you have confidence in what you are doing, you might as well start off on the right foot.

Once you have a server or a host, you will only have to worry about the website design. I can only wish you luck from here. The fact of the matter is that you will have to come up with your own unique idea for a new social networking site, I have published this article with hopes of bringing the social networking market potential to your attention. The size of the market is huge. How you get your slice of the pie is up to you. I hope some of the information in this article has helped you to get off on the right foot.

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