First up is Spoke, one of the few social networking sites that launched simultaneously with an enterprise component as well. Its FAQ states that its revenues are entirely from sales of its enterprise applications, and so it promises never to charge for any components of its public network.
Also different from other social networking sites, Spoke requires the use of a client-side application, and ties into your email:
To use Spoke's automatic discovery tool you must use either:
- Outlook, Eudora or Lotus on Windows 2000 or XP; or,
- Hotmail, Yahoo! or a POP3 server for email on any platform (Mac included)
Unfortunately, this doesn't help me -- I'm on a Mac, and I don't use a POP3 server, I use IMAP. I also got an error when I tried to verify my registration, both in Safari and Mozilla -- I'll try again and see how it goes.
Gaining network information from your email is quite clever, and is the basis for that much-talked about app (well, around here, anyway), Zoe. Any further analysis of the service will have to wait until I actually try the system.
Serence's KlipFolio seems to be following the old push model of content. Of course, they bill it as being most useful for tracking breaking information within enterprises.
To me, this is a perfect example of a piece of software that is going to get completely blown away by RSS. This little quote for one of the "klips" you can download from the KlipFarm is a good example:
This Klip will display any RSS or RDF feed you have a URL for. Perfect if your favourite syndicating sites don't offer Klips yet.
Let's see...I run a large website and want to provide some sort of push feature for visitors. Do I make a "klip" or do I go with a completely open standard that has many client implementations on all platforms? Seems obvious which will win.
My advice to Serence: somebody just moved your cheese -- the sooner you reallize this, the better shape you'll be in. Provide backwards compatibility for your proprietary klips system, but focus all your energies on developing RSS-based technologies. Call me if you need any help.
But, Tribe is the only one that I actually use. It has content that I go back for, and I usually check it several times a day (it could definitely use RSS feeds). Both LinkedIn and Zerendipity suffer from the fact that there is no content (apart from profiles) that keeps me coming back.
Any social networking site that is going to rely on business-focused traffic better have some innovative ideas to get people coming back. Much of the buzz around current sites (like $10M for Friendster) seems to be focused on the sizzle that comes from the social aspects rather than any business taking place.