Virtual Communities

African American Websites are hooking people up in more ways than one

learn from the experience and insights of others on topics ranging from estate planning to online investing.

BlackEnterprise.com, the online arm of the black enterprise magazine, provides a plethora of information on business, financial, social, and political issues. Its newest e-commerce addition, beShopNet mall, lets small business owners create virtual storefronts. Seminars and other business tools are provided in partnership with DigitalWork.com. The site features information on be’s Black Wealth Initiative, allowing users to pledge their commitment to the principles of DOFE (the Declaration of Financial Empowerment). Stock quotes and the status of the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq are a mouse click away.

Community
BlackVoices.com is the epitome of a virtual African American community. On a social note, the site houses 30,000 to 42,000 member photos, receiving 200 to 300 additional pictures each day. It operates several chat rooms focusing on diverse subjects. blackVoices hosts at least one offline social event a month for members and visitors in and outside of the U.S. (e.g., Caribbean cruises). In addition to its extensive news and articles sections, the site has an extensive career center. There are more than 22,000 resumes posted, including listings that range from service industry jobs to high-tech.

A win-win for both job seekers and employers, potential candidates can peruse the company profiles of potential employers while employers can search resumes and post job positions. Members may learn about happenings in cities from fellow members who live there through the site’s “Chocolate Cities” section. BlackVoices’ shopping center offers wares ranging from black Greek merchandise to unique products provided by African American entrepreneurs from around the globe.

NetNoir.com, one of the premier black-oriented sites, provides an arena for people to congregate and connect to black culture and lifestyle. The site’s core visitors are between ages 25 and 45, but it has exciting and active sections catering to teens as well as to women. Using new technologies, NetNoir now provides streaming audio and media to further enhance its appeal. Its “features” section posts such content as poetry, where visitors can actually hear prominent spoken-word poets or peruse works by lesser known poets and hobbyists. The site’s e-commerce venue, www.blackshopping.com, includes a “Bazaar” where smaller businesses can sell their wares. With over 20 chat rooms and voice chat capabilities, NetNoir.com is a social hotbed.

The site, which averages about 600,000 unique monthly visitors, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. A six-part party was held across the country to mark the event. Co-founder and CEO David Ellington will continue to feverishly expand the NetNoir brand.

BlackPlanet.com, a community Website that premiered last fall, has become one of the stickiest black-oriented sites. It has grown from 200,000 to close to 800,000 unique visitors a month, each of whom spend, on average, four minutes on the site chatting, searching, and reading. The site’s fast growth is due mainly to BlackPlanet’s emphasis on member interaction. It offers free personal pages, e-mail, games, forums, chats, news, instant messaging, and Internet telephony. Add to all of this gifts, special promotions, and online events. “We

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