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Social Networking Sites For Businesses Set To Take Off

Like Soylent Green, the Internet is made of people. And people are social by nature, as can be inferred from the popularity of social networking site MySpace.com, which this week became the most visited site on the Internet, according to Hitwise.com.

Yet businesses have been slow to catch the social networking wave. Despite the increased visibility of services like Plaxo, LinkedIn, and Visible Path over the past few years, which facilitate interpersonal connections through the exchange of contact information, they don't quite offer up the intimate online interaction that drives consumer-oriented social networking sites.

Sites and software that drive lead generation, jobs, and deals--the payoff for corporate social networking--have their place. But for businesses looking to engage customers online and to keep them coming back, building a social networking environment could become a necessity, if only to keep users from interacting elsewhere.

That's clearly what netizens are doing at sites like MySpace and on the roughly 40 million blogs that blog search engine Technorati.com tracks. If the past 10 years online have any lesson, it's that people never tire of talking about themselves.

Car information site Edmunds.com has been nurturing its online community since 1997 using online discussion forums. In February, it deployed WebCrossing Neighbors, collaboration software company Web Crossing's private-label social networking platform, to power its new automotive social networking site, CarSpace.com.

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