Online social networks can serve any purpose

and they can be broken down further into major categories. The existing online social networks are now include business, informational, dating, shopping, travelling, gaming, professional, educational, hobbies, academic, news related, just about everything in our life that requires human interaction.

Within each of these major categories, there are many thousands of communities filled with millions of active members who spend significant time in those social networks.

According to the research report commissioned by the UK government "Online social Networks" we can classify the social networks into following categories:

Profile-based online social networks

Profile-based social networks are primarily organised around members’ profile pages. Facebook (, Bebo (, MySpace ( and LinkedIn ( are all good examples of this. Members develop their profile and ‘web space’ in various ways and can often contribute to each other’s spaces – typically leaving text, content or links to external content. In addition, some offer their members the ability to embed video content from sites such as YouTube ( or photo sharing content from sites such as Flickr (

Content-based online social networks

With these services, the member’s profile remains an important way of organising connections, but it plays a secondary role in the posting of content. Photo-sharing site Flickr ( is an example of this type of online social networks where groups and comments are based around pictures. Shelfari ( is one of the examples of book-focused sites, with the members ‘bookshelf’ being a focal point of their profile and membership.

White-label social networks

These sites offer members the opportunity to create and join communities – this means that users can create their own ‘mini-Facebooks’, small scale, personalised or branded social networking sites about whatever the creator wants them to be about. The interesting examples of white-label social networks can be found here.

Although most online business social networks are currently free, the monetization or making money on internet of the social networking sites is just a matter of time and the model will soon change to a subscription basis. Just as many internet users pay to their service providers, those in the business world will need to pay for online business social networks to maintain their competitiveness.

Business people have been using The pay-for-network service model for thousands of years. Offline business networking events are rarely free, and even high-priced networking events rarely allow people to find who they really need. By contrast, online business networking enable members to seek a confident introduction through a friend, to a much-needed business contact - clearly, a valuable feature.

The natural next step beyond assisting with the network meeting process is to provide social networking tools facilitating rich, real-time communication. Just as in the online dating world competition for members depends on expanding feature sets, leaders in the emerging online business networking space will separate themselves by implementing new applications that support better methods of business collaboration online. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs will do well to begin getting comfortable with online audio, video technology, mobile social networking and even apps such as iphone apps possibilities, so that they can be among the early adopters as these services become available.

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