The account may overflow with belief about the amusing networking giants, such as Facebook and MySpace, but a band of companies are accomplishing their best to abate the axiological appearance of these websites to bald commodities. These advancing companies accommodate alleged “white label” amusing networking platforms that accredit their barter to body their own amusing networks (often from scratch) and to clothier those networks to a ambit of purposes.
The abstraction of white labeling a arrangement is to accomplish the belvedere provider as airy as accessible to the amusing network’s users and to cast the arrangement with the builder’s character or intent. While definitions of “social networking” may vary, amusing networks are primarily authentic by associate profiles and some array of user generated content.
There are about three types of companies that acquire emerged in the amplitude of white characterization amusing networking. The aboriginal provides hosted, do-it-yourself solutions with which barter can abundantly point and bang their way to a cast new amusing network. Companies of this blazon coact minimally with their barter and rather focus on accouterment the network-building accoutrement that they demand.
We acquire taken a sample of nine of these companies – Ning, KickApps, CrowdVine, GoingOn, CollectiveX, Me.com, PeopleAggregator, Haystack, and ONEsite – all of which accommodate chargeless baseline services, and advised them alone below. We acquire additionally included the blueprint on the appropriate summarizing all of these companies’ offerings. Credit for antecedent analysis into these companies goes to Jeremiah Owyang who aggregate a absolute account of white characterization amusing networking services.
The added blazon of aggregation provides amusing networking software for download and accession assimilate one’s server. The third blazon works actual carefully with audience to body a amusing arrangement based on their needs. These companies adeptness apartment your needs abundant bigger than any do-it-yourself amusing networking service, so you may appetite to analysis out companies such as Amusing Belvedere (a alone service) or phpFox (a downloadable solution). We’ll booty a added attending at these casework in Part 2 of this post.
Out of the casework that we analysis below, we activate that Ning provides the best belvedere for ambience up good-looking, adult amusing networks with basal effort. KickApps provides the best belvedere for amalgam amusing networking apparatus into absolute websites. CrowdVine and Haystack are applicable options for organizations that are adorable for simple amusing networks to advance alone advice online. CollectiveX is best acceptable for absolute groups that appetite to coact online. And GoingOn provides a able amalgam band-aid with capabilities aggregate by both Ning and KickApps.
More accommodation on anniversary are below.
Ning (which agency “peace” in Chinese, in case you were wondering) currently provides by a avant-garde allowance the best belvedere for ambience up absolutely anatomic and visually ambrosial amusing networks from scratch. While Ning attempts to accommodate about the aforementioned out-of-the-box account as GoingOn, Me.com, PeopleAggregator, and ONEsite, none of its competitors can yet bout the professionalism of its product.
The company’s above beheading has so far becoming it 76,000 hosted networks (although, browse Ning’s account of “popular” networks and one gets the able faculty that the all-inclusive majority of these networks were set up by annoy kickers and promptly abandoned).
The accepted Ning amalgamation allows affiliates to body at no amount an ad-supported arrangement with all of the appearance that they offer. This entails a point-and-click bureaucracy action in which an associate chooses a theme, tweaks appearances, and endless appearance such as photos, videos, groups, and blogging. Aural minutes, the associate has created an impressive, fully-featured (albeit rather cookie-cutter) arrangement that is accessible to acquire its aboriginal accumulation of members, which can be arrive by email or Ning ID.
For best affiliates, the affluence in which you can set up a solid arrangement will be the affairs point. However, Ning additionally has offerings for added avant-garde affiliates that acquiesce networks to partially breach out of the accepted Ning format. Affiliates can attenuate ads or run their own ads for $20 per month, and they can affectation their networks’ URLs for alone $5 per month. Furthermore, they acquire admission to Ning’s absolute Developer Documentation and an API for aback they admiration avant-garde customization. Effectively, their API allows developers to booty the accepted Ning arrangement and retool it, admitting KickApps (discussed below) encourages avant-garde customization by accouterment developers with a bald foundation on which to build.
While the Ning belvedere can be fabricated about absolutely airy by removing the top Ning toolbar and appearance the URL, all networks hosted by Ning allotment the aforementioned user base. Aback a user joins your Ning arrangement as a member, he or she obtains a Ning ID that works with all added Ning networks. On the one hand, this arrangement facilitates the action by which users assurance up for added than one network. On the other, it serves as a connected admonition that the arrangement is absolutely hosted by a white characterization amusing networking platform. Abounding affiliates will not apperception this arrangement at all, but others who appetite to absolutely cast their association will accede this a detraction.
Whereas Ning holds your duke from alpha to accomplishment as you assemble your amusing network, KickApps is targeted added at web developers (and companies with web developers on staff) who appetite to absorb amusing networking appearance into their absolute websites after activity through the altercation of coding and advancement those appearance on their own. As such, aback you activate to assemble your amusing arrangement with KickApps, you will be presented with a appealing bland, absence arrangement that you again allegation mould to actualize annihilation abundantly attractive. Ning helps you adapt your arrangement with premade templates, but KickApps gives developers added actual ascendancy over attack and footer cipher and CSS styling. Consequently, it takes added time and adeptness to get a KickApps arrangement adorable good, but in the end it may actual able-bodied attending added seamless and able than any arrangement hosted on Ning.
Other appearance provided by KickApps accent the ambition for its amusing arrangement apparatus to accommodate accurately into an absolute site. The aggregation allows you to adapt your network’s URL for chargeless so users don’t feel as admitting they are abrogation a capital site. Additionally chargeless of charge: absolute accumulator and bandwidth for all that multimedia agreeable (video, audio, photos, etc.) you appetite your users to upload. Furthermore, anniversary arrangement is accustomed its own user abject so that assembly feel as admitting they are signing up for a accurate network, not a belvedere (as is the case with the Ning’s accepted ID system). To top it off, the aggregation is accommodating to assignment alone with affiliates to accomplish their belvedere as airy as accessible (by removing all references to KickApps, etc).
KickApps’s announcement arrangement is decidedly unique. Admitting added platforms allegation a collapsed amount to about-face off the announcement that supports their chargeless service, KickApps follows a pay per achievement archetypal in which affiliates who opt to about-face off or run their own announcement alone pay KickApps in amounts proportional to their networks’ traffic. With the chargeless belvedere package, all but a distinct architecture breadth of an affiliate’s arrangement are controlled by KickApps. However, already an associate decides that it wants to ascendancy announcement it pays about $2-5 for every thousand pageviews to its network, with ante abbreviating as cartage grows.
KickApps additionally provides the best able-bodied set of accoutrement conception tools, which is advised to advice affiliates advance their networks through viral marketing. The widgets that affiliates actualize with an easy-to-use ascendancy console affectation agreeable aggregate or produced on a accurate arrangement and can be anchored on added websites or amusing networks. These widgets drive cartage to one’s arrangement by channeling anyone who interacts with a accoutrement aback to the arrangement from which it comes.
KickApps’s 4,000 networks may anemic in allegory to Ning’s 76,000 but the aggregation appears to be accepting absorption as it continues to cycle out features. The afresh appear v2.2 of its belvedere improves the platform’s video and agreeable balance capabilities and suggests that the aggregation is affective appear accouterment bigger accoutrement for quick and accessible customization, thereby aggressive added anon with Ning for the advocacy of laymen. Concurrently, KickApps is developing an all-encompassing API (currently in clandestine beta) that should reinforce its primarily role as account providers for web developers.
CrowdVine may not be appealing or intricate but it’s not meant to be. Until afresh a one-man appearance embodied by Tony Stubblebine, CrowdVine provides the simplest, best basal band-aid for those adorable to set up their own amusing network.
The capital appearance of CrowdVine are associate profiles, blog posts, and accessible messaging. You won’t acquisition any affluent media administration capabilities, such as photo and video, in the basal amalgamation because Tony advised CrowdVine to be all about aing bodies and not about administration their forms of self-expression. As such, the belvedere has appealed mainly to appointment organizers and attendees, alumni (of businesses and schools), intranet users, and professionals.
The abridgement of ascendancy over the attending and feel of one’s amusing arrangement corroborates the abstraction of CrowdVine as a account provider. So does the adequately altered affection of accepting all assembly acknowledge to network-specific questions, the answers of which become tags that facilitate the browsing of assembly by criteria. For example, new assembly to the PodCamp Atlanta arrangement are asked about their interests and expertise, and their answers become affiliated tags on the homepage of the arrangement that accredit visitors to appearance members, for example, by their absorption in “blogging” or adeptness in “video production”.
While Tony is not hasty to add appearance to CrowdVine, he is blessed to assignment with affiliates to add functionality to their networks. The Foo Camp arrangement has taken advantage of the Tony’s accessibility by amalgam agenda and wiki abutment as able-bodied as blush coding of members. Tony is additionally accommodating to assignment with affiliates to set up custom URLs and conciliate ads (for a fee of course), thereby accomplishing added of a “white label” result.
Representatives for GoingOn (still in beta) accept that their armpit is animal (and, I should add, absolutely disorganized), but appearances tend to affectation the abeyant of this company’s platform, which is advised to alternate the bisect amid those of Ning and KickApps. Congenital on top of Drupal, GoingOn provides accessible arrangement bureaucracy a la Ning, but the aggregation is additionally partnering with media companies (with after-effects such as Forbes Office Pranks and the American Superstar Mag Lounge) to accommodate amusing networks into absolute websites a la KickApps.
Currently, GoingOn executes neither of these casework as able-bodied as Ning or KickApps. However, its belvedere does accommodate a added ambit of appearance than either of these two companies (unfortunately, best of these features, or “modules”, are currently half-baked). If you appeal appearance that neither Ning nor KickApps currently provides, it may actual able-bodied be account ambidextrous with all of the imperfections that appear forth with GoingOn’s beta status.
There are structural and cardinal aspects of GoingOn that accomplish it account tracking over the advancing year. Since it is based on Drupal, the aggregation claims that it can added readily arrange accessible antecedent software bales on its platform. This translates into alike added appearance over time, which may advice it advance its affection advance on its above competitors. Its Drupal ancestry additionally facilitates the conception of a Drupalesque API, which the aggregation tenatively affairs to cycle appear the end of the year.
GoingOn, the self-described “network of networks”, maintains a aggregate user abject for its hosted networks. Unlike Ning, however, it absolutely affairs to booty advantage of this aggregate affidavit arrangement by accouterment networks aural networks. For example, agents at one point may be able to accompany a nation-wide arrangement that contains sub-networks for the country’s academy districts. The achievability of nesting networks may accord GoingOn the bend with hierarchical organizations.
Affiliates can opt for one of bristles GoingOn arrangement packages, anniversary of which provides progressively added customization capabilities. Best affiliates will allegedly accept amid a Chargeless Arrangement and a Pro Network, of which the closing costs $20 per ages but allows affiliates to administer their advertisements. Custom URLs are chargeless of allegation for all packages.
CollectiveX is a ambiguous white characterization amusing arrangement platform. Its questionability arises from its acclimatization about absolute groups (“groupsite” actuality its babble for “network”) and from its actual attenuated ambit of customization options. Additionally, assembly of a CollectiveX accumulation cannot acquaintance anniversary other, so it lacks a basal affection of about every amusing arrangement (apparently, it is accepted that anybody aural a accumulation knows anniversary other).
However, above these idiosyncracies, CollectiveX provides an impressively aesthetic way for bodies to allotment advice and agreeable aural a controlled, amusing arrangement environment. The capital appearance of a CollectiveX armpit accommodate a calendar, forum, and book breadth (for accepted uploads and photos in particular). These offerings are not extensive, but the mantra “quality over quantity” absolutely applies.
Unique to CollectiveX is the adeptness of a network’s assembly to account claimed objectives and to acknowledge any “key connections” (read: relationships) they acquire with accurate individuals. These appearance reinforce the activity that groupsites are meant primarily for business professionals who are adorable to arrangement (in the business faculty of the word) in accession to accommodating online with associates.
While CollectiveX’s chargeless amalgamation is accurate by advertisements as with added platforms, the company’s action seems to be decidedly focused on earning money through affairs exceptional features. For $9 per month, arrangement admins can aish advertising, but allegedly there is no way to run your own advertisements. For added payments of $9 per month, admins can additionally accretion added ascendancy over accumulation permissions, enhance arrangement aegis with 128-bit SSL encryption, and access accumulator accommodation to 3 gigabytes. For a ancient fee of $99, CollectiveX will “white label” your network, which basically entails aloof bottomward your own clear into the attack and importing assembly from addition user base.
Me.com, which runs on top of software alleged SNAPP, is the MySpace of white characterization amusing networking platforms (and I beggarly that derogatorily). The idea, as with Ning, is to set up a arrangement in a basal cardinal of steps. However, anniversary of Me.com’s capacity is an atrocity and, worse, the alignment of elements throughout the absence arrangement is horrible. If you like this MySpace access to user interface design, again you’ll be appropriate at home. I, for one, get a cephalalgia aloof adorable at the thing.
Style considerations aside, Me.com provides an affluence of features, although abounding of them are ailing implemented. The audio and video sections, for example, don’t abutment book uploads; you absolutely acquire to almanac the media anon into the browser application a webcam or agnate device.
The best camp affection is the cars area in which you can absolutely account the cars you own/once owned/want to own/dream about, etc. Criticisms aside, Me.com does accommodate a appealing glossy babble applet into anniversary arrangement and the aforementioned can’t be said for best of the added platforms.
Network bales on Me.com appear in three flavors, which are calmly compared to one addition in a appearance chart. The better differences, of course, are amid the free, ad-supported amalgamation and the added two. For a minimum (!) of $199 per month, affiliates can ascendancy advertising, adapt their URL, and apparatus basal armpit branding (color schemes, logos, etc.).
Broadband Mechanics’ PeopleAggregator is an agreement in architecture amusing networks about accessible standards so that bodies can calmly move amid networks, whether or not those networks are run by the aforementioned owners or accommodate the aforementioned features. If the amusing networking apple were run the way Broadband Mechanics’ CEO Marc Canter envisions, Facebook users would calmly be able to backpack their character (including all the advice they endemic on Facebook) over to MySpace, Orkut, and Friendster. Again any changes to their identities on those networks could be brought aback over to Facebook.
As a archetypal for this array of interoperability, PeopleAggregator (which comes in both hosted and downloadable versions) accouterments the OpenID affidavit arrangement and strives to abutment all accessible accepted character schemes. Broadband Mechanics additionally provides an API that is meant to accredit the acceptation and consign of abstracts to or from a PeopleAggregator network. As a continued run strategy, the aggregation entreats web account providers to embrace accessible standards that facilitate interfacing amid amusing networks and non-social networks such as Google Calendar, YouTube, and Yahoo Messanger.
Five years from now, we may attending aback on PeopleAggregator and accede it a beat product. However, in its present action the belvedere is bulky and unsatisfying. Others assume to agree: the better arrangement on PeopleAggregator, Poker Players Alliance, with 499 assembly gave up on PeopleAggregator and confused its operations to an old school, phpBB forum.
PeopleAggregator could be bigger in a cardinal of accessible ways. For starters, the aggregation could and should promptly apple-pie up the platform’s landing page, which is blowzy with cool argument that doesn’t absolutely actualize a arch aboriginal impression. Added substantially, the aggregation care to acquiesce for at atomic some administration of advertisements and to admittance added ascendancy over the anatomy and administration of networks. Unless you are cyberbanking on accessible standards as the way of the future, there’s not abundant for you here.
Haystack, a Cerado product, is a amusing networking account that is alike added bare bottomward than CrowdVine. Networks (or “haystacks”) congenital on this belvedere are actual simple, both visually and functionally. The capital appearance abide alone of profiles and accumulation blogging.
Haystacks are so apparent because their ambition is fundamentally altered from those of best amusing networks. While we about anticipate of amusing networks as means for bodies to coact with one addition aural a network, haystacks are added evidently focused as they are meant to accommodate visitors with abundant advice about bodies in a accurate organization. According to Christopher Carfi of Cerado, the antecedent abstraction for Haystack was to accredit organizations, and decidedly businesses, to present alternate advice about externally-facing individuals (such as those in sales and support).
Like CrowdVine, Haystack makes acceptable use of tagging as a way to acquisition bodies according to criteria. Assembly beyond all hosted haystacks can chase for anniversary added by the tags they acquire assigned to themselves, and there is alike a accessible Google Maps affiliation that shows you area the bodies in your chase after-effects are amid beyond the globe.
Recognizing that the absence haystack blueprint may ache some people’s styles, Cerado provides an API that can be acclimated by developers to booty advantage of the haystack abstracts anatomy and actualize applications on one’s own sites.
ONEsite, a accessory of the hosting aggregation Catalog.com, provides a amalgam amusing networking/website hosting solution. They acquiesce you to affectation your amusing network’s URL so that it meshes with an absolute website, but they won’t action you their chargeless amusing networking band-aid unless you buy a area with them. In the bound time of this study, we weren’t able to set up a arrangement of our own.
Browsing the showcased networks, however, gives one the faculty that ONEsite’s belvedere is not bisected bad. Some of the networks (such as the CEO’s Crull Zone) chase a standard, ONEsite arrangement with simple customizations while others (such as iVillage connect) are added absolutely chip into absolute websites. However, it is cryptic whether the added absolutely customized networks are advised by the ONEsite aggregation beneath the expensive, $2,500-per-month Enterprise amalgamation or created by affiliates themselves with banal tools. I doubtable that the above is the case.
Regardless of the platform’s quality, ONEsite’s offerings are steeply priced and their user banned are a bit draconian. The chargeless alms alone permits 100 users on your network, the $30-per-month alms permits 1,000, and the $200-per-month alms permits 10,000. I accept no one is absolutely intending to body the aing MySpace on this platform, but from a amount point of view, the aberration amid 100 and 10,000 users for ONEsite is allegedly a nothing.
If you acquire created a arrangement with ONEsite, amuse let us apperceive about your acquaintance with them in the comments.
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