The Social Networking Explosion – From ZeFrank to

Thanks to @ethanhays I just watched Ze Frank’s Nerdcore Comedy, and truthfully (minus the cheezy-looking graphics), I can’t believe this was filmed in 2004. I’m posting it to my site, because, well, let’s face it he’s absolutely hilarious. But beyond his witty sarcasm and creative & forward-thinking technerd brain, I do think there is so much we can learn from ZeFrank’s 2004 web/sharing mentality, even today. (P.S. Where has this guy ended up anyway?!)

It’s worth the 20 minutes, but FYI Ze starts talking about “Online Social Spaces” at 14:45. Absolutely fascinating.

The fact that this was filmed in 2004 got me thinking about the timeline and growth of the social media sites that I use everyday to both keep in touch with my friends and market my business. So, after a little Wikipedia magic, here’s a super-brief timeline detailing the launch of some major social sites that are still in heavy use today.

2002 – Friendster was founded by computer programmers Jonathan Abrams and Cris Emmanuel in 2002 in Mountain View, California, to create a safer, more effective environment for meeting new people by browsing user profiles and connecting to friends, friends of friends and so on.

2003 – After the launch of Friendster, several eUniverse employees with accounts saw its potential and decided to mimic the more popular features of the social networking website, in August 2003. Within 10 days, the first version of MySpace was ready for launch.

2003 – Mark Zuckerberg (right) invented Facemash on October 28, 2003 while attending Harvard as a sophomore in an effort to get his mind off a girl who had dumped him. Of course, this was the first generation of today’s online giant, Facebook.

2003 – LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site, mainly used for professional networking. Founder Reid Hoffman, previously CEO of LinkedIn and now executive vice president of PayPal, oversees day-to-day operations and is also Chairman of the Board.

2005 – YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen’s apartment in San Francisco.

Of course there’s been tremendous movement and growth since the 2005 video phenomenon YouTube (*ahem* Google Wave… Twitter… WordPress… Ning… Pluck… *gulp*), but let’s fast-forward to 2009 for conversation’s sake. (I’m sure I’ll fill in the gaps in some future blog post).


Thinking back to the birth of Facebook boggles my mind, especially considering companies like Skittles now use Facebook as their homepage! If you haven’t seen it, you really need to visit – Launched in March 2009, will take you everyplace from YouTube to Twitter with one relatively seamless experience. Taste the Rainbow, folks.

The Ultimate List of Social Networking Websites

So, let’s have a look at where we are today. I totally pirated this list from Wikipedia, but here’s a list of major active social networking websites and excludes dating websites (see List of online dating websites). For defunct social networking websites see List of defunct social networking websites

Please note the list is not exhaustive, and is limited to some notable, well-known sites.

Name Description/Focus Registered users Registration Global Alexa[1] Page ranking
Advogato Free and open source software developers &0000000000013575.00000013,575[2] Open &0000000000128340.000000128,340[3]
Amie Street Music Open &0000000000024784.00000024,784[4]
ANobii Books Open &0000000000010734.00000010,734[5]
aSmallWorld European jet set and social elite &0000000000270000.000000270,000[6] Invite-only &0000000000008583.0000008,583[7]
Athlinks Running, Swimming &0000000000068496.00000068,496[8] Open &0000000000073295.00000073,295[9]
Avatars United Online games. Open &0000000000294575.000000294,575[10]
BabyCenter Mothers, Parenting, Pregnancy Open &0000000000001018.0000001,018[11]
Badoo General, Popular in Europe &0000000037000000.00000037,000,000[12] Open to people 18 and older &0000000000000179.000000179[13]
Bebo General. &0000000040000000.00000040,000,000[citation needed]
[14][dead link]
Open to people 13 and older &0000000000000341.000000341[15]
Bigadda Indian Social Networking Site. &0000000003000000.0000003,000,000[16] Open to people 16 and older. &0000000000003176.0000003,176[17]
BigTent organization and communication portal for groups Open to people 18 and older (13-18 parental permission encouraged &0000000000034047.00000034,047[18]
Biip Norwegian Community. &0000000000013476.00000013,476[citation needed] Requires Norwegian phone number. &0000000000027415.00000027,415[19]
BlackPlanet African-Americans &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000[20] Open &0000000000002350.0000002,350[21]
Blogster Blogging service that lets users “add friends” or establish business connections to their profiles. &0000000000058344.00000058,344[22] Open &0000000000047946.00000047,946[23] General Open &0000000000111069.000000111,069[24] Video sharing and webcam chat &0000000000322715.000000322,715[25] Open &0000000000183917.000000183,917[26]
Buzznet Music and pop-culture &0000000010000000.00000010,000,000[27] Open &0000000000000736.000000736[28]
CafeMom Mothers &0000000001250000.0000001,250,000[29] Open to moms and moms-to-be &0000000000004333.0000004,333[30]
Cake Financial Investing Open &0000000000481922.000000481,922[31]
Care2 Green living and social activism &0000000009961947.0000009,961,947[32] Open &0000000000002594.0000002,594[33] School, college, work and the military &0000000050000000.00000050,000,000[34] Open to people 18 and older[35] &0000000000000799.000000799[36]
Cloob General. Popular in Iran. Open &0000000000000712.000000712[37]
CollegeBlender A social media-based online community for college students, faculty, and alumni. Requires an email address ending in .EDU &0000000000553453.000000553,453[38]
CouchSurfing Worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit. &0000000001560459.0000001,560,459[39] Open &0000000000003711.0000003,711[40]
DailyBooth Photo-blogging site where users upload a photo every day Open &0000000000005460.0000005,460[41]
DailyStrength Medical & emotional support community – Physical health, Mental health, Support groups Open &0000000000022054.00000022,054[42]
Decayenne European and American social elite Invite-only &0000000000154733.000000154,733[43]
deviantART Art community &0000000009040962.0000009,040,962[44] Open &0000000000000097.00000097[45]
Disaboom People with disabilities. (Amputee, cerebral palsy, MS, and other disabilities.) Open &0000000000112712.000000112,712[46]
Dol2day Politic community, Social network, Internet radio (German-speaking countries) &0000000000040200.00000040,200[47] Open &0000000000554616.000000554,616[48]
DontStayIn Clubbing (primarily UK) Open &0000000000019022.00000019,022[49] General (primarily LV, LT, HU) &0000000002400000.0000002,400,000[citation needed] Invitation only &0000000000002081.0000002,081[50]
Elftown Community and wiki around Fantasy and sci-fi. &0000000000185000.000000185,000[51] Open, approval needed &0000000000017681.00000017,681[52]
Epernicus For research scientists Open &0000000000293955.000000293,955[53] For baby boomers Open to people 13 and older &0000000000027320.00000027,320[54]
Experience Project Life experiences Open &0000000000003452.0000003,452[55]
Exploroo Travel Social Networking. Open &0000000000209868.000000209,868[56]
Facebook General. &0000000350000000.000000350,000,000[57] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000000002.0000002[58]
Faceparty General. Popular UK. &0000000000200000.000000200,000[59] Invitation only to people 18 and older. &0000000000028760.00000028,760[60] British teens Open to people 13 and older &0000000000120665.000000120,665[61]
Fetlife People who are into BDSM &0000000000032500.00000032,500[62] Open to people “of [legal] age to see adult content” &0000000000007833.0000007,833[63]
Fillos de Galicia Galicia and Galician diaspora &0000000000006772.0000006,772[64] Open &0000000001630495.0000001,630,495[65]
FilmAffinity Movies and TV Series &0000000000250000.000000250,000[66] Open &0000000000003916.0000003,916[67]
FledgeWing Entrepreneural community targeted towards worldwide university students. Open to university students &0000000001793990.0000001,793,990[68]
Flixster Movies &0000000063000000.00000063,000,000[69] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000001018.0000001,018[70]
Flickr Photo sharing, commenting, photography related networking, worldwide &0000000032000000.00000032,000,000[71] Open to people 13 and older. &0000000000000033.00000033[72]
Fotolog Photoblogging. Popular in South America and Spain. &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000[73] Open &0000000000000227.000000227[74]
Foursquare Location based mobile social network &0000000000170000.000000170,000[75] Open &0000000000004539.0000004,539[76]
Friends Reunited UK based. School, college, work, sport and streets &0000000019000000.00000019,000,000[77] Open to people 13 and older. &0000000000010231.00000010,231[78]
Friendster General. Popular in Southeast Asia. No longer popular in the western world. &0000000090000000.00000090,000,000[79] Open to people 16 and older. No children allowed. &0000000000000146.000000146[80]
Frühstückstreff General &0000000000014800.00000014,800[citation needed] Open &0000000001253155.0000001,253,155[81]
Fubar dating, an “online bar” for 18 and older &0000000001200000.0000001,200,000[82] Open &0000000000009476.0000009,476[83]
Gaia Online Anime and games Open to people 13 and older &0000000000001071.0000001,071[84]
GamerDNA Computer and video games &0000000000310000.000000310,000[85] Open &0000000000022887.00000022,887[86] Article, picture, and video sharing, as well as group discussions &0000000000465000.000000465,000[87] Open &0000000000003974.0000003,974[88] Social network for LGBT community, Guide for LGBT bars, restaurants, clubs, shopping &0000000000100000.000000100,000[89] Open. Global &0000000000074664.00000074,664[90] Families, genealogy &0000000015000000.00000015,000,000[91] Open &0000000000005815.0000005,815[92]
Gogoyoko Fair play in Music – Social networking site for musicians and music lovers Invite only while in beta &0000000000119272.000000119,272[93]
Goodreads Library cataloging, book lovers Open &0000000000002543.0000002,543[94] Anonymous gossip Open to people 16 and older &0000000001245494.0000001,245,494[95] Poland &0000000002000000.0000002,000,000[citation needed] Open &0000000000002958.0000002,958[96]
Habbo General for teens. Over 31 communities worldwide. Chat Room and user profiles. &0000000117000000.000000117,000,000[97][98][99] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000006545.0000006,545[100]
hi5 General. Popular in India,Portugal, Mongolia, Thailand, Romania, Jamaica, Central Africa and Latin America. Not popular in the USA. &0000000080000000.00000080,000,000[101] Open to people 13 and older. No children allowed. &0000000000000051.00000051[102]
Hospitality Club Hospitality &0000000000328629.000000328,629[103] Open &0000000000038258.00000038,258[104]
Hyves General, Most popular in the Netherlands. &0000000009000000.0000009,000,000[105] Open &0000000000000225.000000225[106]
Ibibo Talent based social networking site that allows to promote one’s self and also discover new talent. Most popular in India. &0000000003500000.0000003,500,000[107] Open &0000000000000695.000000695[108]
imeem Music, Video, Photos, Blogs &0000000024000000.00000024,000,000[109] Open &0000000000000407.000000407[110]
Indaba Music Online collaboration for musicians, remix contests, and networking. &0000000000350000.000000350,000[111] Open and Global &Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”.Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character “,”55,062[112]
IRC-Galleria Finland &0000000000505000.000000505,000[113] Open to Finnish speaking people 12 and older &0000000000003302.0000003,302[114] Language learning social network. 100+ languages. &0000000000450000.000000450,000[citation needed] Open. Global. &0000000000014610.00000014,610[115]
InterNations International community Invite-only &0000000000026688.00000026,688[116]
Itsmy Mobile community worldwide, blogging, friends, personal TV-shows &0000000002500000.0000002,500,000[117] &0000000000206437.000000206,437[118]
iWiW Hungary &0000000004000000.0000004,000,000[119] Invite-only &0000000000000532.000000532[120]
Jaiku General. Owned by Google. Open to people 13 and older. &0000000000015661.00000015,661[121] Creative resource website Open to the General Public &0000000000930958.000000930,958[122]
kaioo General, nonprofit &0000000000030000.00000030,000[123] &0000000000386200.000000386,200[124]
Kaixin001 General. In Simplified Chinese; caters for mainland China users Open to the General Public &0000000000000061.00000061[125]
Kiwibox General. For the users, by the users, a social network that is more than a community. &0000000002400000.0000002,400,000[126] Open to people 13 and older. &0000000000104563.000000104,563[127] Music &0000000030000000.00000030,000,000[128] Open to any age or gender &0000000000000310.000000310[129]
LibraryThing Book lovers &0000000000400000.000000400,000[130] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000004529.0000004,529[131]
lifeknot Shared interests, hobbies Open to people 18 and older. &0000000000602117.000000602,117[132]
LinkedIn General but mainly business &0000000053000000.00000053,000,000[133] Open to people 18 and older. &0000000000000042.00000042[134]
Listography Lists. Autobiography. Open &0000000000197009.000000197,009[135]
LiveJournal Blogging &0000000017564977.00000017,564,977[136] Open (OpenID) &0000000000000081.00000081[137]
Livemocha Online language learning – dynamic online courses in 22 languages – world’s largest community of native language speakers. &0000000003000000.0000003,000,000[138] Open &0000000000004079.0000004,079[139]
LunarStorm Sweden &0000000001200000.0000001,200,000[140] Open &0000000000065874.00000065,874[141]
MEETin General Open &0000000000173717.000000173,717[142] General. Used to plan offline meetings for people interested in various activities. Open to people 18 and older. &0000000000000739.000000739[143]
Meettheboss Business and Finance community, worldwide. Open &0000000000107180.000000107,180[144]
Mixi Japan &0000000024323160.00000024,323,160[145] Invite-only &0000000000000085.00000085[146]
mobikade mobile community, UK only Open to people 18 and older &0000000001851728.0000001,851,728[147]
MocoSpace mobile community, worldwide &0000000003000000.0000003,000,000[148] Open to people 14 and older &0000000000003685.0000003,685[149]
MOG Music Open to people 14 and older &0000000000004221.0000004,221[150] Social Network, social media, consumer reviews Open &0000000000002545.0000002,545[151]
Multiply “Real world” relationships. Popular in Asia. Not popular in the western world. &0000000010000000.00000010,000,000[152] Open to people 13 and older. No children allowed. &0000000000000246.000000246[153]
Muxlim Muslim portal site &0000000000050000.00000050,000[154] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000059099.00000059,099[155]
MyAnimeList Anime themed social community &0000000000160000.000000160,000[156] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000006096.0000006,096[157]
MyChurch Christian Churches &0000000000144295.000000144,295[158] Open &0000000000094510.00000094,510[159]
MyHeritage family-oriented social network service &0000000030000000.00000030,000,000 [160] Open &0000000000002953.0000002,953[161]
MyLife Locating friends and family, keeping in touch (formerly &0000000051000000.00000051,000,000[162] Open &0000000000001481.0000001,481[163]
MyLOL General. Popular in the United States, Europe and Australia. &0000000000032000.00000032,000[164] Open to ages 13 and up. &0000000000152787.000000152,787[165]
My Opera Blogging, mobile blogging, sharing photos, connecting with friends. Global. &0000000003000000.0000003,000,000[166] Open &0000000000000658.000000658[167] (Alexa only records data for second-level domains)
MySpace General. Losing ground to Facebook in recent years. &0000000130000000.000000130,000,000[168] Open to ages 13 and up. &0000000000000011.00000011[169]
myYearbook General &0000000005100000.0000005,100,000[170] Open to age 13 and up & Grades 9 and up &0000000000000851.000000851[171] School, college and friends. Popular in Poland. &0000000011000000.00000011,000,000[172] Open &0000000000000110.000000110[173]
Netlog General. Popular in Europe, Turkey, the Arab World and Canada’s Québec province. Formerly known as Facebox and Redbox.[174] &0000000059000000.00000059,000,000[175] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000000130.000000130[176]
Nettby Norwegian Community. Open &0000000000002719.0000002,719[177]
Nexopia Canada &0000000001400000.0000001,400,000[178] Open to people 13 and older [179] &0000000000024071.00000024,071[180]
NGO Post Non-Profit news sharing and networking, mainly in India &0000000000015000.00000015,000[181] Open &0000000000070134.00000070,134[182]
Ning Users create their own social websites and social networks Open to people 13 and older &0000000000000132.000000132[183]
Odnoklassniki General. Popular in Russia and former Soviet republics &0000000045000000.00000045,000,000[184] Open &0000000000000092.00000092[185]
OkCupid Social networking and dating Open to people 18 and older &0000000000001261.0000001,261[186]
OneClimate Not for Profit Social networking and Climate Change Open to People of all ages and locations &0000000000307773.000000307,773[187]
OneWorldTV Not for Profit Video sharing and social networking aimed at people interested in social issues, development, environment, etc. Open &0000000027434227.00000027,434,227[188]
Open Diary First online blogging community, founded in 1998. &0000000005000000.0000005,000,000[189] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000039290.00000039,290[190]
Orkut General. Owned by Google Inc. Popular in Brazil and India.[191] &0000000100000000.000000100,000,000[192] Open to people 18 and older, (Google login) &0000000000000079.00000079[193]
PartnerUp Social networking site for entrepreneurs and small business owners &0000000000150000.000000150,000[citation needed] Open and Free &0000000000029221.00000029,221[194]
Passportstamp Travel Open &0000000000366598.000000366,598[195]
Pingsta Collaborative platform for the world’s Internetwork Experts Invite-only, only Internet Experts &0000000001668955.0000001,668,955[196]
Piczo An online photo website builder and community, which is for generation of free advertising-supported websites.
Plaxo Aggregator &0000000015000000.00000015,000,000[197] Open &0000000000001533.0000001,533[198]
Playahead Swedish, Danish,Norwegian teenagers Open &0000000000063081.00000063,081[199]
Playboy U Online college community Open to college students with .edu e-mail address &0000000000433970.000000433,970[200]
Plurk Micro-blogging, RSS, updates. Very popular in Taiwan. Open &0000000000001072.0000001,072[201] Enterprise social networking and micro-blogging Open &0000000004893711.0000004,893,711[202]
Qapacity A a business-oriented social networking site and a business directory Open to people 16 and older &0000000000096847.00000096,847[203]
quarterlife A social network for artists, filmmakers, musicians, and creative people Open to people 14 and older &0000000000088516.00000088,516[204]
Qzone General. In Simplified Chinese; caters for mainland China users &0000000200000000.000000200,000,000[205] Open to the General Public &0000000000000012.00000012[206] (Alexa only records data for second-level domains)
Ravelry Knitting and crochet &0000000000331000.000000331,000[207] Invite-only while in beta &0000000000007811.0000007,811[208]
Renren Significant site in China. Was known as 校内 (Xiaonei) until August 2009. &0000000015000000.00000015,000,000[209] Open &0000000000000103.000000103[210]
ResearchGATE Social network for scientific researchers &0000000000140000.000000140,000[citation needed] Open &0000000000051885.00000051,885[211] Social network for musician and bands &0000000000025000.00000025,000[citation needed] Open to people 16 and older &0000000000006187.0000006,187[212]
Ryze Business &0000000000500000.000000500,000[213] Open &0000000000019839.00000019,839[214]
ScienceStage Science-oriented multimedia platform and network for scientists Open &0000000000037310.00000037,310[215] Collaborative network site for scientists By invitation, but can request an invitation &0000000001231795.0000001,231,795[216]
ShareTheMusic Music Community. Sharing and listening to music for free and legally. Open &0000000000471712.000000471,712[217]
Shelfari Books Open &0000000000019681.00000019,681[218]
Skyrock Social Network in French-speaking world &0000000022000000.00000022,000,000[219] Open &0000000000000111.000000111[220]
SocialVibe Social Network for Charity &0000000000435000.000000435,000[citation needed] Open &0000000000041927.00000041,927[221] General. Popular in Latin America and Spanish and Portuguese speaking regions. &0000000017000000.00000017,000,000[222][223] Open to people 13 and older. &0000000000000507.000000507[224]
Soundpedia Music Open &0000000000848757.000000848,757[225]
Stickam Live video streaming and chat. &0000000002000000.0000002,000,000[226] Open &0000000000002742.0000002,742[227]
StudiVZ University students, mostly in the German-speaking countries. School students and those out of education sign up via its partner sites schülerVZ and meinVZ. &0000000015000000.00000015,000,000[228] Open &0000000000000195.000000195[229]
StumbleUpon Stumble through websites that match your selected intrests. &0000000008822921.0000008,822,921[citation needed] Open &0000000000000255.000000255[230]
Tagged General. Subject to quite some controversy about its e-mail marketing and privacy policy. &0000000070000000.00000070,000,000[231] Open &0000000000000117.000000117[232]
TalentTrove Online Talent Network Open &0000000000021177.00000021,177[233]
Talkbiznow Business networking Open &0000000000283770.000000283,770[234]
Taltopia Online artistic community Open &0000000000052759.00000052,759[235]
Taringa! General. &0000000000350000.000000350,000[236] Open to people 13 and older &0000000000000126.000000126[237] Travel &0000000001588000.0000001,588,000[238] Open to people 18 and older &0000000000011789.00000011,789[239]
Travellerspoint Travel Open &0000000000013731.00000013,731[240] General Open &0000000000005706.0000005,706[241] French subsidiary of &0000000004400000.0000004,400,000[242] &0000000000007283.0000007,283[243]
Tuenti Spanish-based university and High School social network. Very Popular in Spain &0000000004500000.0000004,500,000[citation needed] Invite-only &0000000000000291.000000291[244]
Tumblr General. Micro-blogging, RSS Open &0000000000000245.000000245[245]
Twitter General. Micro-blogging, RSS, updates &0000000044500000.00000044,500,000[246] Open &0000000000000014.00000014[247]
Vkontakte Russian social network. &0000000058025000.00000058,025,000[248] Open &0000000000000182.000000182[249] Gothic and industrial subculture &0000000001931049.0000001,931,049[250] Open to users 13 and over &0000000000007577.0000007,577[251]
Viadeo European Social Networking and Campus Networking in Seven Languages &0000000006000000.0000006,000,000[252] Open &0000000000001724.0000001,724[253]
Vox Blogging Open &0000000000001319.0000001,319[254]
Wakoopa For computer fans that want to discover new software and games. &0000000000100000.000000100,000[citation needed] Open &0000000000009420.0000009,420[255]
Wasabi General Open &0000000000095188.00000095,188[256]
WAYN Travel and lifestyle &0000000010000000.00000010,000,000[257] Open to people 18 and older &0000000000002974.0000002,974[258]
WebBiographies Genealogy and biography Open &0000000000734214.000000734,214[259]
WeOurFamily General with emphasis on privacy and security Open, subscription-based &0000000000685337.000000685,337[260]
Windows Live Spaces Blogging (formerly MSN Spaces) &0000000120000000.000000120,000,000[261] Open &0000000000000005.0000005[262] (Alexa only records data for second-level domains)
WiserEarth Online community space for the social justice and environmental movement[263] &0000000000034240.00000034,240[264] Open to people 16 and older &0000000000077143.00000077,143[265]
Xanga Blogs and “metro” areas &0000000027000000.00000027,000,000[266] Open &0000000000000768.000000768[267]
XING Business (primarily Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and China) &0000000008000000.0000008,000,000[268] Open &0000000000000269.000000269[269]
Xt3 Catholic social networking, created after World Youth Day 2008 Open &0000000000459914.000000459,914[270]
Yahoo! 360°plus Vietnam Owned by Yahoo!. General & blogging. Popular in Vietnam. &0000000001500000.0000001,500,000 Open (Yahoo! login) &0000000000000003.0000003[271] (Alexa only records data for second-level domains)
Yammer Social networking for office colleagues Must have company email &0000000000032993.00000032,993[272]
Yelp, Inc. Local Business Review and Talk Open &0000000000000343.000000343[273]
Youmeo UK Social Network (focus on data portability) Open &0000000001680191.0000001,680,191[274] Greek Web Meeting point &0000000000890000.000000890,000[275] Open &0000000000008057.0000008,057[276]

How to Market Yourself as a Professional Athlete using Social Media

Dear Athlete,

Whether you know it or not you are, quite literally, a marketable product… but unless you’re one of the few headliners in your league, chances are you just can’t afford a team of people to get your name out there, build a cool website, or create a personalized marketing campaign.

Good news! There are ways make yours a household name using FREE tools currently available online – most of which fall into the category of “social media”.

Before we dig into it, there are a couple things you should think about before engaging in a Social Media Marketing campaign:

• Be yourself. People can sniff out disingenuous posts from a mile away.
• Writing an over-edited, “vanilla”, ubiquitous post will not reap positive results.
• Social media is about 2-way communications – real relationships. Engage with fans, and they will reward you handsomely for it.
• It’s okay to keep your personal sites, well… personal. Instead of “friending “ the hundreds of requests you receive on any given site, start “Fan Page” in that community and direct requests there.
• Good resource: A Word on Social Media Etiquette from Techipedia
• Be mindful that you may have 13-year-old girls reading your posts, and on the flip-side, 45-year-old men.
• Link your pages to each other. This will allow fans to crawl your mini-social-network and engage within different communities.
• Links = equity. The more people you can get to link to your pages, the more valuable they become on the World Wide Web. Good resource: 101 Link Building Tips to Market your website:

Facebook / MySpace – These are all free-access social networking websites used connect and interact with other people. Here are some keys to building a successful campaign:

• Use your real name, on your profile and in the URL whenever possible. Your name is your brand.
• Post a clear photo of yourself – headshots in uniform or action shots are best, so people can see who you are and what you do immediately upon finding your page.
• Update with regularity – player stats, events you’ll be attending, thoughts on the last/upcoming match, etc.
• Answer questions that people ask on your wall/comments.
• Post photo galleries, videos, etc. as soon as possible after matches and events.

Twitter – Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users seek to answer the age-old question, “What are you doing now?” Twitter is currently gaining incredible traction in the Professional Sports world. Embrace it, but keep in mind:

• Add an avatar and a bio at the minimum. Let people know who you are.
• Following people is a compliment to them; being followed is a compliment to you.
• Learn the Tweeter’s lingo. Good resource: From Twits to Tweeple, Why I Embraced Twitter and You Should Too:
• Answer your Direct Messages and @replies.
• Build your followers by getting your Twitter page listed and following others in your community:
• Don’t follow a whole bunch of people and then un-follow them. This is commonly known as Twitter-spam and is poor form in the Twitter community.
• Use some of your Tweets as “link-bait” to direct fans to other online properties – for example, a blog you wrote, a Facebook post, or a video of you. But be cautious not to use Twitter exclusively for push marketing, Twitter is about real relationships.

YouTube – Start a YouTube channel and keep it updated. Remember to use relevant keywords and a quality description when you post.

Blogging and Commenting – Blogs are a great way to drive interest in your brand, and develop a content-rich site that will (hopefully) perform well in organic search like google. Good resource: How Search Engines Rank Pages:

• Write catchy headlines and use relevant keywords in titles and section headers. Good resource: 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work:
• Give attribution/links to other sites and bloggers whenever appropriate.
• Link-exchange with other relevant sites, and connect with other bloggers who share your out-of-sport interests.
• If you’re blogging for an external source – New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune for example, include a link to your player profile and your Twitter page. Leverage this mass audience by encouraging people to dig a little deeper.
• Don’t use your blog as a flame war against a player or team you don’t like, or to tarnish someone else’s image.


Don’t be fooled by thinking that Social Media Marketing is easy – It’s work. And you’ll need to put the time into making it successful.

However, the greater your popularity, the more tickets you’ll sell to matches and/or the more page views you’ll turn on your team’s website (which equals ad impressions)… and the more you’re worth for those lucrative endorsement deals! Then maybe someday you can afford a team of people to do this important Social Media Marketing for you. ;-)

Finally, you’re leaving your digital signature on the Internet right now. Think about the consequences of your engagement on any social site. Racial slurs, criticisms without warrant, and blatant abuse don’t work in real life, and they really have no place in the social media channels. Above all, think about maintaining a certain level of professionalism that you would hold yourself to in any in-person interview.

In addition to the ideas listed here, there are many more outlets that you can utilize for your marketing campaing. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like more information about them – Delicious, Digg, StumpleUpon, BallHype, etc. – or want to learn more strategies to make your websites Google-Friendly (Search Engine Optimization).

Thanks for your time, and Happy Tweeting!