Third Mind | Social Media – Packaged Solutions Research
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Social Media – Packaged Solutions Research

The following is research on packaged Social Media and Social Networking systems. Written at the end of 2009, this point-in-time research looks into providers of Software-as-System, Pre-Fab bolt in downloadables, and Open-Source providers. Any notes referring to “9 Rooms” are in reference to the specific project being researched at the time.

NING Social Networking Platform – http://www.ning.com

: http://about.ning.com/product.php
: appears to cover all requirements  except the 9 Rooms configurator. Note “Customize advanced member search based on your Ning Network’s unique profile questions, including location.” feature under the “Unique Member Profiles” tab – may be a configurator lead device
: apparently the initial system is free – http://www.ning.com/main/signup . You can upgrade features through “Premium Services” ( http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3397) like pointing your own domain name, posting ad banners, clearing out the credits content. Ex:

Introduction to premium services
In addition to all of the features available by default when you create a free social network on Ning, Network Creators can purchase premium services to enhance your social network. We offer a number of premium services, designed to provide you even more freedom over your social network. The social network TuDiabetes uses its premium services to own and promote the “tudiabetes.com” domain name, remove the “Created By” box from the right column on the main page, and to position its own ads in the desired location.

: here is the Premium Services price list: http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=2973

: they have a Help area: http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/home.php?p_sid=gUKlFgOj

: and a Workshop area: http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/workshop.php?p_sid=gUKlFgOj

: can go multi-lingual (see lower left corner of the main site)

ONEsite Social Networking Platform – http://www.onesite.com

: http://www.onesite.com/features.html
: appears to cover all requirements  except the 9 Rooms configurator.
: pricing no longer available on their site. You have to contact them… A bad sign. They have a ‘request for proposal’ link


SquareSpace Site Building Tools with Blog / Community Modules Available – http://www.squarespace.com

: http://www.squarespace.com/tour
: the have a ‘Manual” area here: http://manual.squarespace.com/
: allows integration of flash components and javascript within page bodies
: features are here: http://www.squarespace.com/features/ – but the Manual / Pages area may be more helpful: http://manual.squarespace.com/pages-widgets/
: their multi-member / user account requirement would require SqSpace’s $50/month Community pricing – this will also allow data collection functions as well (not a specific project requirement, yet): http://www.squarespace.com/pricing/
: may not cover individual users generating content / private content (mouseholes) –  appears you need to designate Editors to develop content beyond member commenting functions


SocialEngine Social Networking standalone / Bolt In solution – http://www.socialengine.net

: http://www.socialengine.net/
: PHP based block of purchased code – try for free or purchase for $250 per domain. “Start simple and buy features a la carte” – see plug ins and extras listings here – http://www.socialengine.net/order.php
: here is an example of what the deployed baseline system ‘looks’ like – http://www.socialenginedev.com/home.php

Kick Apps – Social and Media Apps on Demand http://www.kickapps.com/

: service as software approach, turnkey, though broken into specific modules
: rates very high in the market, but does not feel as slick overall as Ning and SquareSpace (to me)
: free initially, with services upgrade pricing here (small biz $100/month): http://www.kickapps.com/product-solutions/pricing-2.html
: personalized home pages and specific member areas are part of the Social Networking module: http://www.kickapps.com/socialnetworking
: main features are here: http://www.kickapps.com/features

Is Open Source a consideration?

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/the-5-best-open-source-social-networking-software/
::: http://www.elgg.org/ and  http://community.elgg.org/ – PHP and mySQL based bolt in (free?) solution that you host yourself.
::: http://mahara.org/ – open source, free, not sure of the code’s language base, which you host yourself.
::: http://lovdbyless.com/ (free Ruby on Rails system, you add the database and webserver(s))
::: http://www.xoops.org/ (CMS) with a SocMedia bolt-on http://sourceforge.net/projects/galeriayogurt/
::: http://www.barnraiser.org/aroundme – seems a little too open to me. Not feeling as strong on support.
::: Here are some of the candidates that didn’t make it to the top 5:
Phpizabi – works fine for a small network, but could become buggy as your network get bigger.
Dolphin – while it is free to download, you will have to pay to get the ad module removed.
Insoshi – a new social network software built on Ruby on Rails released only early April this year. It could have be better if some of its features are more polished.