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10-04-10, 04:50 PM
http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/logos.pngThere are lots of ways to create a social network that involve scripts and paid hosting, and all sorts of settings that you have to get right before you can get your network up and running. If you‚??re looking for a way to skip all of that, and get right to the good part ‚?? customizing your social network and inviting your colleagues and friends to join, there are two free and easy ways to do that.

Sign for a free account on SocialWok (http://socialwok.com) or Shout‚??Em (http://shoutem.com) and you‚??re just steps away from your very own private social network.


If you‚??re a die-hard Google (http://makeuseof.com/tags/google) fan, or want to limit registration to users from a specific domain, SocialWok is the best option for you. If you‚??re more flexible and want to let anyone sign up, Shout‚??Em is the way to go. Check out the features below and decide which one is right for you.

SocialWok (http://socialwok.com)

SocialWok‚??s integration with Google services, from documents, to notes to maps, makes it the ideal choice for Google fans. You can sign in with your Google or Google Apps account, but if you use your Google Apps account, you can only invite people from the same domain name. Using a Gmail address has the same effect but allows you invite anyone who has a Gmail address.

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Status updates can be accompanied by links, files, notes, Google documents, events and locations. You can also address a status update to a person in your network, or mention them in your update, using the same method as Twitter, with the @ sign.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/SW-Update.png

If you want to share specific status updates from SocialWok on other networks, you can do so after it has been posted by clicking ‚??publish.‚?? You can publish directly to Twitter (http://twitter.com), Facebook (http://facebook.com), LinkedIn (http://linkedin.com) or Google Buzz (http://www.google.com/buzz).

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SocialWok allows you to choose when¬* to be notified of activity in your social network through email or through Google Talk.

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An interesting SocialWok feature is the ability to create ‚??Feeds.‚?? This gives the service a great way to keep network updates organized, which is useful when working on a project in which you can share ideas and files.

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Not only can you broadcast to other networks from SocialWok; you can also import feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and any site with an RSS feed, but be warned, putting in an RSS feed to your blog will flood the timeline with your most recent posts.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/SW-Feed.png

Keep up to date with your network on the go using the iPhone and Android apps, or simply visit their site from your mobile phone. On your desktop, you can keep up to date using Seesmic (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/seesmic-look-a-new-free-twitter-tool-for-the-non-geek-windows/). And if you‚??re using the web version, SocialWok updates itself in realtime so there‚??s no need to refresh the page to see new messages from your friends.

Shout‚??Em (http://shoutem.com)

If you don‚??t want to be tied down by a domain name, Shout‚??Em is better suited to your needs. The service is feature rich and highly customisable. Signing up for a Shout‚??Em account will allow you to join as many Shout‚??Em networks as you want to. After you register for a free account on Shout‚??Em, you can then go on to create your network. Choose the network‚??s name, link, and customise it to your heart‚??s content.

http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Shout-Create.png

You can choose the theme, the character limit for status updates, allow link and photo attachments, enable location features, and much more. After you‚??ve created a social network, you can also go back and change these settings later.

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If you‚??re a Facebook or Twitter user, connect your accounts so that you can selectively update all 3 networks simultaneously.

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Each status update can be accompanied by location checkins, photos, videos and much more.

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Adding friends to your social network is made easy, searching for friends who have Shout‚??Em accounts through through Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or just invite whoever you want to via email. If you want to open up the social network to a large public audience, simply broadcast the URL and anyone can sign up.

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Stay up to date with the social network using Twhirl (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/send-tweets-make-video-with-the-new-improved-twhirl/), or on the go using their iPhone, Blackberry or Java app. Android users will be happy to know that there‚??s an app in the works.

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Have you created your own private social network? Let us know how you did in the comments.
Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers (http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/)!


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