Since the development of the very first social networking website in 1995, Classmates, the popularity of this type of website has steadily increased. There are many contributing factors in association with the overall popularity of social network software and websites. Many internet users are becoming members of online virtual communities, and taking advantage of social network software, which is being provided in these online communities. The popularity of social networking software is at an all-time high, and is expected to continue to grow over the next few years. The following paragraphs will discuss social networking, as well as discuss its growing popularity and what contributes to it.

As society continues to evolve at tremendous rates, it is sometimes hard to predict what will be popular in the near future. However, this is not the case with the popularity of social networking and community software. A virtual community called MySpace reported to have had more page views in the year 2005, than the ever so popular search engine, Google. It was MySpace again, which topped the popularity list in 2006, when it came to social networking software and websites.

It has been predicted by experts that social network software and virtual communities will continue to grow over the next few years. Mainly because of the ability to connect with friends and associates all over the world, many computer users will continue to enjoy virtual communities and their community software in the future. While this is one of the main contributing factors in regards to the popularity of social network software, it is not the only contributing factor.

The easy to use community software provided by most virtual communities is also a contributing factor in association with the growing popularity of social networking software.

Community software usually includes features such as:

1. a profile page,

2. an email in-box,

3. a blog page, and

4. an area to leave and receive messages.

Social networking software can also include search options, to help you search for members to be added on to a network. Many other factors can contribute to the constant rise in social networking popularity statistics. The convenience and ease of logging onto the internet are also a part of rise in popularity. Imagine connecting with so many different people, without ever having to leave the comforts of home.

One of the main reasons of the social network software to remain popular is the high numbers of unique members of the leading virtual communities, who have registered. In May, MySpace had over 50 million unique registered members. MySpace was followed by Classmates and Facebook, with both virtual web communities having over 14 million unique registered members. More of the list goes as follows:

1. YouTube – over 12 million unique registered users,

2. MSN Groups – over 9 million unique registered users, and

3. Xanga – over 7 million unique registered users.

With YouTube gaining over 6 million unique registered users in a one months time span, with MySpace gaining over 15 million in the same time span, the popularity of these websites and their social network software is not predicted to decline any time soon.

Easy to use community software is another reason, why experts are not of the opinion that the popularity of social networking software is going to come down. Community software is often offered by any of the registered member of an online social networking community. This software provides users with tools to help enable them to interact with other users.

Message boards are also offered in many social networking software packages, by the online communities. With social network software tools providing easy communication with millions of people, the decline in online social networking is not foreseen in the future. On the contrary, a mammoth growth in popularity is envisaged, with people looking for the ever growing network community.

Finally, the increased use of the internet is a contributing factor to the popularity growth of social network software. A great number of households have a least one personal computer, pocket computers, and cell phones with internet access as well. This is not to mention that almost every business has a website, and offer their products and services online. The popularity of the internet itself is helping the popularity growth of online social networking, as well as the software, that these virtual communities offer to their registered members. It is an exciting time to watch and see the different types of social network sites pop up, and the new ideas people bring to the web.