When is the last time you went through the phone numbers in your cell phone just to catch up with old friends? Probably not recently, but I’m sure you remember the last time you checked out their Friendster profile.
The popularity of Web sites such as Friendster, MySpace and the college-exclusive Facebook have revolutionized socializing and networking amongst young adults.
Yes, these Web sites are different than Yahoo! Personals or any other Web site used for finding matches. You can, but in a less direct and possibly more social-friendly way.
These Web sites-if you don’t already know-allow users to create profiles with the ability to disclose as much information as they want about themselves.
Friendster was conceived in 2003 by Jonathan Abrams while using an online dating site. He found the process impersonal and a bit creepy. He decided that there was a better way to meet people, whether for dates or friendship, using his friends as a trusted referral network. The idea launched in April 2003 and has blossomed into a phenomenal network reaching people from all over the world.
According to Jeff Roberto, Public Relations and Marketing Manager for Friendster, UCI currently holds the number three spot for college and university Friendster users.
Based in the San Francisco area, Friendster currently has 20 million members worldwide.
‘Friendster spans an 18-35 demographic who use it as a tool to reconnect with old friends or find activity partners,’ Roberto said.
In recent months, Friendster has implemented a variety of features for members, including audio/viedo capablities, increased photo storage and enhanced graphics, colors and fonts.
Friendster features are created after surveying is done by Friendster to get an idea of what users want to see.
‘We get a good response by doing this and usually, before we launch a feature, we test it out with a broader Friendster audience and tell them to check it out,’ Roberto said.
Blogs, which have also become a popular way to share information on the Web, were also impemented as new features on Friendster.
According to Roberto, many of the features were designed by Friendster users including a profile editor which allows for users to customize the color and layout of their user profile.
Those that are computer savvy have the option to program certain looks into their profiles with computer code.
While many people use Friendster to just browse profiles of friends and other users, the ability to search for alumni and old friends make it a great way to expand a social and professional network.
‘If you move to a new city and want to meet people there, it’s a good resource to see who’s out there,’ Roberto said.
A new classifieds section also keeps users up to date on local events.
The Web site also implemented a group feature which allows users to form groups based on common interests, schools attended, or for club and group memberships.
If you’ve signed on to your Friendster account recently, you may have noticed an option to check out who has been viewing at your Friendster profile.
While some users may not welcome the idea of letting strangers see their profiles, users should be aware of the restrictions that users may impose on how much information about themselves is disclosed.
Personal information such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers are are not made available to users.
Friendster allows users to be a little less forward in terms of wanting to get to know other people.
The next time you sign on, send someone a ‘smile’ just to say hi-or let them know that you’re interested.