Which Caribbean social network will be number one?

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The race to become the dominant Caribbean social network has become hot and heavy with players. From the pioneers, the newbie’s to the niche players which ones are the real contenders in becoming the facebook.com or classmates.com of the Caribbean? We’ve been tracking the development of Caribbean social networks for the past five years years and there have been some exciting developments over that time. Chief among them are that first there is now easier access to social network software in a box and add to that, tech entrepreneurs have recognizing more the gaps in the Caribbean market and are gunning to fill them. Subsequently- social media in the Caribbean is mushrooming.

The Pioneers: There are the ones who got in the game before social networks were popular generally but particularly this side of the world. These sites competed with the mindshare dominance of the American based sites such as hi5.com and blackplanet.com. First there is vibesconnect.com, which was started by a Jamaican tech entrepreneur Delroy Frazer. 

Vibesconnect.com started out focused on snagging the Jamaican market, but evolved and is now more focused on challenging blackplanet.com for the general Caribbean and US-based African American online market.Then there is caribbeanmassive.com started by a Kittian tech entrepreneur Rodney Browne. This site made a direct bid for the Caribbean regional and Diaspora market from the start. We also have ackee.com, which started in 1997 and pitched the classmates alma mater angle, where Jamaicans at home and overseas could reconnect with their friends from high school. They have since extended the reach to the Caribbean. These pioneers have been a minimum of five years.

The Newbies: This group of social networking sites threw their hats into the ring less than two years ago some as little as 6 months ago. We have caribfriends.com the newest entrant, started less than 3 months ago by seasoned Jamaican tech entrepreneur. Caribfriends.com focuses on being a general social network but have also added the classmates angle.Also in this group we have caribgonewild.com, which focused immediately on the Spanish, English and French speaking Caribbean with their own distinct sections, partially in their own languages all under a single site. Caribgonewild.com was started less than a year ago by a Haitian American entrepreneur living in New York. 

Then we have caribplanet.com and then easily the most visible Caribbean social networking site idletribes.com, started under a year ago by another seasoned Jamaican tech entrepreneur Jamie Ranston. Of all the entrepreneurs who’ve started a Caribbean social network, Ranston is the only one with previous online community/social networking experience-having worked with what was the very first online community/social networking site that catered to a Caribbean audience at home and abroad via country named and focused sites – HomeView Jamaica.com, Homeviewtnt.com etc. All this leads us to think about which sites are real contenders.

THE REAL CONTENDERS

Based on business models, marketing muscle and membership base, we believe we can cherry pick the top3 real contenders that will become dominant in the market, enjoy profitability and longevity.

Business Model

Vibesconnect.com – Google adsense and affiliate marketing.

Caribbeanmassive.com- Google adsense, joined an online advertising networking, local direct ad placements

Ackee.com – Google adsense

Caribfriends.com- Google adsense

Caribgonewild.com-direct ad placements, cut from member music sales

Idletribes.com – Google adsense ads, direct ad placements

Marketing

Vibesconnect.com – They’ve had membership drive type of contests with hip gadgets as winning gifts.

Caribbeanmassive.com-they do a lot of local radio advertising in St Kitts. They have also had short google pay per click ad campaigns

Ackee.com – undeterminded.

Caribfriends.com – cross linking with high traffic sites such as Caribsingles.com and Jamdeal.com

Caribgonewild.com-undetermined

Idletribes.com-cross linking with high traffic sites, a healthy daily spend of Google adwords pay per click campaign.

Memberships

Vibesconnect.com – unknown

Caribbeanmassive.com – Has just over 7,000 registered users

Ackee.com – Has just over 15,000 registered users

Caribfriends.com – Has just over 1,000 registered users

Caribgonewild.com – Has over 8,000 registered users

Idletribes.com – Just this week passed 7,000 users

NUMBER ONE?

Who do you think are the top 3 most dominant Caribbean Social networking brands and why? We believe vibesconnect.com,Caribbeanmassive.com and idletribes.com are the real contenders.

PERFECT FOR A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR BUYOUT ? 

This is toss up between vibesconnect.com and idletribes.com but factors can change that around very quickly in a matter of weeks or months.What do you think?

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  • DTrini

    What about http://www.caribplanet.com ? I have been on all the above sites and CaribPlanet surely has more members and activity than the others. The blog writer must be good friends with CaribFriends 🙂

    Do your thing, sistren..

  • Debie

    I will go with ” http://www.GuyanaX.com ” (GuyanaX – Social Network). It has some very powerful tools especially the profile pages, groups, events, blog, photos, upload unlimited music to your page, live audio and video chat, internal email, omg the video option which allows you to upload or embed from Youtube or similar…. I’ll encourage anyone to join it.

  • Great post, as always you’ve hit the nail on the head.

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  • mike

    I think you guys should out for that new iriecity.com in less than two weeks they are almost in the top 100 sites for jamaica on alexa
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/iriecity.com/home.php

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  • Hey Terry, so you’ve jumped into the social networking space. When you said caribbean individual 16 and over, do you mean you’re targeting the teen market or everyone over 16? Why don’t you send me a press release?

  • I would like everyone to LOOK out for http://www.jamaicanspace.com.
    This site is open to all caribbeans 16 and over.

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  • Dr. Knox Grandison from Freeport Grand Bahama Island has launched a new Caribbean Social Network [JohnECake.com] with venture capitalist. This social network is event party headquarters for Bahamas Junkanoo, Trinidad Carnival, Antigua Carnival, Barbados Carnival, Jamaica SumFest and much more.. The official launch date is July 27, 2008 but you can only browse the site before then. With viral marketing, JohnECake has ranked on the first page of Google and Yahoo search for a site that is less than 3 months old..

  • Trilla

    Good point David. Also You can buy profiles by the thousands online to fill your database. Check any of the “freelance” hiring site (elance, guru, etc)you will see profile databases for sale.

  • With Vibes saying 500,000+ users and a quick glance at the Alexa chart (Yes, I do understand the limitations of Alexa and its toolbar), that site should be minting money.

    I would think that Vibesconnect is now more focused on larger markets such as the USA and Europe rather than the Caribbean (not exactly a profit center for online businesses just yet).

  • My question for vibesconnect is how they jumped from 75k to 500k overnight, Delroy you need to tell me your secret and how much of that 500k members is actually active members

  • Hi Peter,thanks for the compliment.
    Yes HomeView tnt was in fact run by Douglas Ames and Jamie, myself and two others ran Jamaica and the others. I was Chief Content Office for HVJ. It was a great idea that was a little ahead of it’s time.
    Douglas has since moved on sold out the HV stuff and moved on to JumpTV and other projects.

  • Peter Samuel

    Ingrid, I enjoy your articles. I was a subscriber of what was once homeviewguyana and the service was wonderful. I was sorry to see they no longer exist. Didn’t homeview belong to a Trini related to the golfer – I think his name was Ames? I don’t a Jamie but if he created homeview please ask him to bring it back!

  • Delroy, I know vibesconect is the behemoth right now in terms of members, but what percentage of your membership is Caribbean…this is focus of this article.

  • Interesting rationale David…Jamie will be happy to hear that one!

  • FYI…vibesconnect has over 500,000 members 🙂

  • I think that your picks are reasonable and I personally think that Idletribes has the best future for two reasons:

    (1) Seasoned tech entrepreneur – never discount the value of experience

    (2) Faster growth – judging by those numbers, it has grown faster than all the rest since it is new but already contending with most of the others

    I don’t know about any multi-million dollar buyouts (not in US$ at least) but there certainly are reasonable potential buyers within the Caribbean and in the US.

    I like that Idletribes isn’t niche Myspace or Facebook and so has much wider appeal down the line.

    I am not a big fan of niche social networking sites because I mainly use them to connect with people outside of the Caribbean and I can find those Caribbean people on Facebook, etc. anyway.

    My money is on Idletribes.