Friendster, Bebo, Tribe, Vox—we’ve missed you of late. As today is supposed to mark the end of the world, the virtual social worlds of years past have been much on our mind.
Where have they gone? Why did they go? Do we even care?
It’s hard to answer those questions without first marveling at what now falls under “social.” A decade ago, blogs and sites like Friends Reunited or Classmates.com were peripheral to our daily digital lives. Today online sociability is the norm: We turn to Yelp reviews when deciding about a restaurant or, when that fails, post on our Facebook walls—“Hey, where can I find good Thai in Philly?” We laugh at cat videos all day long, and we add our IMHO to a long list of responses to ire-inducing blog posts.
Pinterest is definitely one of the big digital marketing success stories of the past few years and most brands have finally recognised the site’s potential for driving both traffic and sales.
The reason for Pinterest's impressive referral stats is at least partly attributable to its page design, as the pinboards allow users to to window shop and pick out attractive products that they want to buy.
The affect on users is so dramatic that last week we blogged a number of cases studies which indicate that Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.
So it’s no coincidence that a number of major brands have used a Pinterest-style design recently when overhauling their websites.
Now we're not saying that Pinterest invented the image-focused layout, but it definitely helped to popularise it as an alternative to a traditional linear timeline of content.
And here are some of the most high profile examples. If you think we’ve missed any then please point them out in the comments...
If the future of the internet is social, as some believe, the long-term fate of the world's largest search engine could rest on how well its social network, Google+ does.
While it has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook in popularity and adoption, with over 100m users, it would appear that Google is off to a decent start.
MySpace announced this week that it clocked up 1m new users in January thanks to the launch of a new music player.
Traffic is still down 25% from the month of June (when News Corporation sold the once-dominant social network to Justin Timberlake and Specific Media) - but could the latest boost in user numbers herald a new beginning for MySpace?
With Facebook going public and expecting to receive a valuation of up to $100bn when its shares hit the market, it's easy to forget that just a handful of years ago, Facebook wasn't the only game in town in the social networking space.
And for a time, there was actually another leader: MySpace.
Jessica Alba this week became the latest celebrity to try their hands at e-commerce, with the launch of Honest.
The own-label brand sells eco-friendly baby products, biodegradable nappies and organic skin care lotions.
Alba says it is aimed at busy mothers that don’t have the time to spend hours seeking out over-priced eco-friendly products.
Honest differentiates itself from the crowd by using an online subscription model to keep consumers hooked.
Some of the social networking companies feeling left out after Google's Search, plus Your World launch may very well complain to regulators already gunning for Google, but they're not going to wait for Washington D.C. or Brussels to tell Google how to manage its SERPs.
Instead, engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace took matters into their own hands with focusontheuser.org and developed a bookmarklet for Firefox, Chrome and Safari that adds a "don't be evil" button to the browser.
StumbleUpon broke into the top 10 of the most visited social networking sites this past November, exceeding MySpace for the first time ever.
This is the first time MySpace has failed to rank in the top 10 social networking sites, according to the stats compiled by Experian Hitwise.
Experian analyst James Murray said StumbleUpon owes its top 10 position to MySpace’s continuing decline rather than a boost in its own traffic.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world have set up a Facebook account, and with that account comes perhaps one of the most important pages on the internet: the Facebook profile page.
Given Facebook's popularity, which shows no immediate signs of waning, one might assume that Facebook would be content to leave the profile page as it is. As they say, if it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. But that's not Facebook.
MySpace may not have as many users as Facebook, but the company is trying to reposition itself (again) as a place where brands can find traction online.
The trouble is, brands usually follow users. Can MySpace flip that equation on its head and use great brand partnerships to attract users?
MySpace executives hope so.