Move over FaceBook: KickApps brings social networking to any Web site

By Carl Lindemann

The Internet continues to be a work-in-progress with a seemingly new site or technology promising to revolutionize sports fans lives. MySpace, SecondLife, FaceBook, and YouTube are just three example of the type of social networking and user-generated content Web sites that are continually evolving to stay fresh. According to David George, Executive Vice President of KickApps Corporation, his company’s hosted application will take any Web site to the next level by making it easy for existing sites to add social networking and UGC. For KickApps, the hope is that once people get used to the idea of social networking and UGC at pioneering sites like MySpace or FaceBook, they’ll have a taste for it elsewhere – and everywhere.

“The trend is amazing. People were still evangelizing about this in January. By late spring till now, every major Web site has been thinking about how to implement it. Expect to see every major publisher have something in place by the end of the year,” George said.

Early sports clients include arenafootball.com, cycling.tv and golfnow.com. A new deal with Akamai Technologies gives KickApps the needed capabilities and capacity to fuel mass adoption. Is this the next big thing?

What KickApps offers is a simple package that can bring social networking and UGC to any website in a matter of hours. It’s simple to dress up the application to match the look and feel of an existing site. What’s the cost? As little as free. The hosted service operates on a two-tier basis. The free version is paid for by opening your website to ads that play on the application.

In other words, as you bring traffic, they’re happy to show ads to that audience. The paid service is for those that want to take control of the ad inventory to leverage their own opportunities.

“Our biz model is pay-for-performance. Anyone can create a completely branded community at no charge on their own site. The free model can work as a starter. As you build up traffic, you can switch to the paid model,” said George.

Beyond the easy no-entry-cost model is compelling notion that the success of the dedicated sites like YouTube and MySpace are just a reflection of how new Web 2.0 is, and where it is likely going if it follows the pattern seen with the Web.

Remember when the Web was new? At that time, America Online had its day gathering together in one place much of what would eventually disperse to standalone sites. Likewise, the social networking and UGC may disperse here, too.

“Community is about context, not about going to a destination,” said George. “You want to be close to a brand, to a sports league or team.”