Just how many social networks can you join? What do you want from a social network? Would you leave Facebook if some other social network offers you more than you ever wanted?
Meet Palzcity (acquired by PicRate.Me) – a Facebook knock-off that wants to help you connect and share with the people in your city.
Note that word: City. (I’d explain later).
With almost everything Facebook has including celebrity/business/brands pages, walls, photos, notifications, photo tagging, chat, etc, excluding of course Facebook’s Timeline, Palzcity wants you to make real friends online rather than increase your social graph.
Founded by Nigerian Sinclair Obasi, the social network claims to have a more secure platform to connect and share with your friends, family, co-workers, etc and discover businesses, celebrities and brands within your city.
One of the unique features of Palzcity is the flexibility it offers which allows you to can change your profile background and colours, a feature that Facebook currently doesn’t offer, but leaves you stuck with the normal Facebook colours of blue.
With Palzcity, you also get to change your dashboard/home settings in terms of where you want your items to be located. For instance, you can change your mutual friends on the left sidebar and even shift ads to where you want them to be.
While using the service, you might wonder if there was a connection with Facebook since it almost has the same layout, same colour scheme and very similar features.
Palzcity reminds me of the 'Chinese Facebooks' that function the same way as the real Facebook. In case you don’t know, the leading social networking site in China, Renren.com (founded in December 2005), started out as a blatant Facebook clone called Xiaonei.com which means ‘on campus’ in the Chinese language.
In August 2009, when it changed its name to Renren, which means ‘everybody’, it had over 70 million registered users. It currently has over 100 million registered users.
Renren had revenues of $76 million USD reported in 2010, up 64% from $46.7 million in 2009 and up from $13.8 million in 2008. In April 2011, the company filed with the SEC to raise $584 million in a US IPO, offering Renren stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.
It was reported that only 42% of Renren’s 2010 revenue came from ads, while 45% came from online games, which is one of the major ways it differs from Facebook which makes most of its revenue from advertising.
Besides, Renren was created around the Chinese social culture and has features relevant to the Chinese market. One of such features is called Market. Usually, student unions in Chinese universities organize a second-hand market at least once every semester where people can sell and buy second-hand items.
Thus, the same model was introduced into the Chinese social networking space which allowed the Chinese Facebook clones to offer a marketplace where people can sell and buy stuff.
Already, Palzcity has a marketplace, so I’m assuming that it intends to offer classified ads listings within the social network. This could be relevant to people looking to buy or sell items within their city or locality in Nigeria, something that Facebook currently doesn’t offer.
As much as I’m a huge critic of clones, I’m also a huge crier of ‘innovative’ clones, so I’d like to think that Palzcity could make a huge difference in the social space if it gets more creative and innovative.
Granted, Facebook has got almost all of us in our veins and brains, but with just about 4 million active users in a country with over 160 million people and an estimated 60 million Internet population, I believe that there’s still more a local social network can offer Nigerians.
There’s still a missing part of the jigsaw and my hope is that Palzcity or any other local social network can solve the puzzle by attracting a critical mass with the relevant features we want in a social network (and making it addictive).
Look deep inside the Nigerian culture, language and society. Create that same feel on an online social network.
Whatever you do, don’t forget SoLoMo.