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Why FaceBook is Best Social Networking Site ?

According to a recent study by Tata Consultancy Services on the web 2.0 generation, across 14,000 high school children in 12 Indian cities, aged between12 and 18, over 63 per cent of urban students spent over an hour online daily and as many as 93 per cent were hooked on social networking. It comes as no surprise then, that social networking web sites are among the most visited web sites today, sometimes even surpassing search engines.

Most of us like to reconnect with our past friends, discover new people, browse and comment on photos and generally while away time playing games or engaging in a host of other activities on social networking web sites. These are some of the features that are offered by today’s social networking web sites. Now let’s get on to the process of finding out which is the best social networking web site out there? To come to a conclusion we decided to first leave out the usual suspects - Orkut and Facebook - and look at some other alternatives (of both desi and other origin) for strong contenders.

We found the Indian web scape crowded with numerous me too alternatives. Shifting through the hoards we came to some of the better ones. There was bharatstudent.com, which is more popular in terms of page views than most Indian networks. Among the Indian networking web sites are ibibo, Yaari, BigAdda and Minglebox. Each has its own small USP and focus. For instance, ibibo was more of a talent showcase, while Bharatstudent has a lot of resources on education, and Bigadda hosts celebrity blogs including that of Amitabh Bachchan. However, some web sites can be described as nothing more than shady hangouts where fake profiles and objectionable content abound. Others just lie abandoned. What good is a social networking web site without people, right?

To compare the multitude of options available, we looked at the overall usability and drew up extensive lists of features such as application support availability, community interaction, search proficiency, ability to import contacts from other sources and privacy options. When we look at statistics, Orkut and Facebook clearly emerge as a class apart. What ensued next was a long drawn jury debate over which one should be crowned the winner. Facebook offers the best modular privacy features that let you choose to a great extent what part of your profile can be viewed by whom. It allows you to create specific lists for friends and give access rights to content on your profile. Orkut, on the other hand, had the first mover advantage in terms of user base with its simplicity; although Facebook is not far behind. Orkut scored high on community interaction too - with more real world offline activities such as treks and concerts being promoted there rather than on Facebook. But we all know Orkut has a dark underbelly too; shadowy characters are always lurking at the fringes of your profile. Facebook has more real people. It allows you to interact with them in many more different ways – thanks in part to its superior applications and games base. Although both Orkut and Facebook support applications, people on Facebook actually use these applications much more than the same features on Orkut. The status message feature in Facebook allows friends to stay connected in real time, and is a great mechanism to encourage users to interact more with each other. People can also “Like” or add comments to the different activities of friends, which is not as static as the comment feature on Orkut albums. Facebook is thus a much more dynamic environment for social networking, when compared to Orkut, and we’ve noticed that communities, events and the profile pages move a lot faster than the Orkut equivalents. For all of these reasons and many others, Facebook won; albeit with a small margin.

Special Mention : MySpace

MySpace has been involved in several initiatives lately to increase its market share in India. It hosted a series of ‘secret shows’ and events in the metro cities. To attend these concerts, you needed to have a MySpace profile. Thousands of people made profiles and queued up outside these events with printouts of their profiles in hand. Gimmicks aside, MySpace is a pretty user friendly web site. It’s a good place to find new music from emerging artists from all over the world and especially India. The reason for this is that the web site is very artist friendly and allows them to have embedded players on their profile pages. Several artists choose this medium to showcase never heard before music, and this makes for interesting browsing.