It's very likely that you've heard of social sites, even if you don't know what they are. MySpace.com, the largest social site out there, is just one of many. It currently boasts 119 million users (according to its website). If you CAN market to that group, that's an awful lot of potential customers.
What is a social site?
A social site is like your own bedroom when you were a kid: it's an expression of you; it's your own space. You can change the background of the site, you can blog, you can post music you're listening to and books you're reading. You can invite friends and groups of friends and send out messages to all of them. You can post pictures of yourself and describe yourself to others. It's basically your own website - so in that sense it's no different than any other type of free web space out there - but it's formalized with a basic structure and a way to connect with other people called "friends".
The top sites includeMySpace.com Xanga.com Facebook.com Friendster.com 360.Yahoo.com Spaces.Live.com
Why is it so popular?
Social sites achieve what websites and blogs tried but couldn't quit achieve. Websites and blogs both offered a place to post your personal information and talk about yourself and your feelings and your day-to-day life. But connecting with other people was something that you couldn't do except by accidentally stumbling across someone else's site through a link. Social sites allow you to join groups of people with similar interest which automatically put you in contact with hundreds or even thousands of people. In that sense, you might consider a social site to be more than a bedroom but a place to meet people, more like a college dorm. Meeting people online is important and until now it was only ever possible by chance, referral, or dating sites.
Can you make money from it?
As with any popular type of online entity, the big question is: can you make money from it? Currently, if you look at MySpace.com, there is a lot of advertising on it, so some people are making money from it: specifically, MySpace.com is making click-through profits and the advertisers seem to think that they can make money, too. But can you make money with a free MySpace account?
In theory the answer is "No." Technically you aren't allowed to sell things from your MySpace website. Doing so may result in getting shunned by your "friends" or even the cancellation of your account.
But there are ways around it. You can if you do it like you would in a forum. In a forum (where you post, along with many other people on a specific topic) you are not allowed to blatantly sell and doing so will result in being shunned or banned. However, in a forum you can include a footer with your URL and a small, discrete sales message. That's okay to do in MySpace: You can just create your own MySpace account and when you blog, be sure to include your sales site or when you send out bulletins to your group of friends, be sure to include your sales site. You can't sell directly on MySpace but you may get some of your friends clicking through your footer link to your sales site to learn more about you, and maybe they'll buy from you.
Is it a perfect situation? No, but then again, not everywhere was meant to be commercialized. It's a common question I hear a lot so I wanted to include it here to set the record straight.