I am always on a quest to find interesting social media tools. With the recent explosion in social networking sites, there seems to be a new site popping up daily. For me, I want a degree of control and I often find myself wishing that I could take elements from one social networking site and apply them to another.
A sense of community is the other element that draws me to social media. Is the community founded in ways that will allow it to grow, and prosper in a crowded space? Because let us be honest, a social network that cannot attract community members, will not last.
THE FIND: This week I wanted to focus on a next generation social network called Webjam, which is based out of the UK. It has been labeled a myspace on steroids, due to its rich feature set. This past week Webjam opened their beta site, which previously required registration to see its community’s pages.
Webjam allows you to construct your pages with a collection of modules. There is a wide collection of modules that allow you to create blogs, message boards, photo albums, audio players, video players, and maps. The site also allows for the integration of outside sites and services. For instance, there are modules for amazon searches, ebay auction tools, flickr photo streams, youTube feeds, yahoo mail and gmail accounts.
THE TEST: When you join Webjam, you are given three pages to work with. There are; main, profile and home pages. All pages can be edited and changed by dragging and dropping modules. Users can easily construct full sites thanks to the ability to create additional pages.
One of the most interesting features to me was how you could easily replicated modules. It is possible to assign permissions to the modules on your pages. You can lock them or leave them open. If you chose to leave them open then others can come and easily copy your models into their pages. What this does is allow for rapid community growth, in the sense that people can exchange modules, which helps to reduce the learning curve of the community as a whole.
Within an hour I had created a test site that included video, audio, rss feeds from my blogs, social bookmarks, and even an old skool version of asteroids. I made sure to leave all my modules open so if anyone wants to use them they are free to.
THE RESULTS: http://www.webjam.com/workbook/lab/
THE PROS: Webjam is well designed and packed with features. With a little bit of work, you can create a feature rich site in no time. Webjam’s real strength is that the sites you build are linked to a community. The communities can be made private or can be open to the whole Webjam social network.
THE CONS: If anything, I would say that working with modules and the amount of features could feel a bit overwhelming, but the fact that you can easily replicate modules from other sites overcomes this.
OVERALL: I highly recommend that you give Webjam a test drive, and I think you will find that the myspace on steroids claim is only partially true. In reality Webjam is a mashup of a social networking page, a start page and an easy site creation tool.
RATING: 9.7 out of 10
ONE QUESTION: Webjam co-founder Yann Motte
Can you explain how you hope Webjam will grow as a community?
Yann Motte: “Ease of use was a key element for us. By default we should share, it is a nice thing to do. By using tagging, users’ reputations and ranking – it will be easy to see what is interesting within the community. We wanted it to be easy for users to replicate pages and modules to help build the community. But it was important for there to permissions so you could share if you wanted to or keep things private.”