Jamaica Magazine

Who will be the dominant Caribbean social network?

Written by Ingrid Riley

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
Who will dominate?

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
Who is most likely a multimillion-dollar buyout candidate? 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?

 

 

 

SiliconCaribe was launched on September 7, 2007 by Ingrid Riley, award-winning investigative journalist and publisher now new media consultant and technology entrepreneur. She serves as editor and leads a small passionate team located in Jamaica, Trinidad, Eastern Caribbean and New York. Our homebase is Kingston, Jamaica.

About the author

Ingrid Riley