Social Networking isn't just the latest online fad. According to many expert web analysts and observers, it is the way of the future for the World Wide Web.
Many of us are familiar with popular social networking sites like myspace.com, facebook.com, flickr, twitter and others, which attract mostly young and young-ish people. These sites have memberships that range in number from hundreds of thousands of users to tens of millions of people around the world, and allow people to not only communicate with other members of their online community, but to virtually share entire aspects of their lives over the internet with other users.
The online social phenomenon is now also beginning to reach an older generation of men and women whose interest for joining online community sites is not necessarily confined to finding a romantic partner. According to Caterina Fake, the co-founder of Flickr, a social networking site that was sold to Yahoo! in 2005 for a reported $35 million dollars, social networking is still in its infancy, and the future promises to be very exciting, especially as the trend is now evolving to include more selective social networking groups.
Which brings us to sites like BeadHuddle.com
BeadHuddle.com is a new social networking site aimed especially at people who love beading. It was founded by an Australian home-based online publishing company that put out an e-book about beading (The Complete Bead Guide) in 2005. The publishers ran a survey amongst its customers (which consist mostly of older, married women) and discovered that, despite the fact that most survey respondents were not experienced computer users, most expressed a great desire to participate in an online community where they could communicate with other beading enthusiasts and share their passion and knowledge of their craft.
The husband and wife publishing team decided that, rather than invest in upgrading the information contained in their e-book, they would avail themselves of the emerging Web 2.0 technology that allows users themselves to create and share content online, and set up a modern and dynamic online community where people with a common interest in the art and craft of beading can join for free. BeadHuddle.com allows people to meet and make new friends online, and to participate and contribute to the growth of the community in so many different ways. BeadHuddle.com members can set up their own profile pages, post photos of their latest beading creations and designs, upload and share 'how to' beading videos, chat online, write articles and blogs about beading and beadworking, ask questions, share tips and participate in forum discussions and polls, post comments and rate other member's contributions, take part in quizzes, post events and announcements about beading fairs, markets and shows in their local area, and so much more. Members even have an opportunity to run classified ads and buy and sell items using e-bay style auctions that are displayed throughout the entire website.
Although the site is fairly new, the word is already beginning to spread among the beading and crafts community and more and more people are expected to join BeadHuddle.com in the coming months, thanks largely to the initial launch promotion that allows everyone who joins until October 31st, 2008 to be upgraded for free to the "paid" membership level for life.
Given the fact that most members are not advanced internet users, the developers were careful to ensure that the site is easy to navigate and explore. As members add more content to the site, BeadHuddle.com is poised to become the "must-go-to" online destination for the online beading community.
As Caterina Fake stated recently, "people have an incredibly powerful desire to communicate with each other, and that will never go away." Beading is not only a creative hobby, it is also a highly addictive social pursuit. People are joining BeadHuddle.com based on an urge to share their creative ideas with other people who share a similar passion for beading.
Beading enthusiasts, however, also spend hundreds of dollars each year buying beads, beading accessories and beading supplies from online retailers. A targeted social networking site like BeadHuddle.com allows beading-related businesses (e.g. beading suppliers and wholesalers) to go far beyond the traditional online e-commerce model of setting up a web store and then hoping to attract people to what is often not much more than an online catalog of items for sale. They can also utilize the real power of being a member of a targeted social networking site to participate in and contribute to the online community by running workshops (using online videos), chatting with their prospective customers (via live chatrooms), answering questions and sharing tips (in forums), writing articles (using blogs) and building trust online with their presence.
As Catherine Fake recently told CNN in an interview, "far from being a fad, social networking is here to stay." Expect, therefore, to see more social networking sites appearing on the World Wide Web, targeting every type of market niche and demographic segmentation ... even sites like BeadHuddle.com, where the majority of its members are older women who love beading!