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A new social networking website - originally begun as a graduate project by a DIT student - is primed to go head-to-head with Bebo in a bid to attract users.

Nimble.ie is an online community which, like MySpace, enables web users to get - and stay - in contact with friends and family. The online community provides an easy way for users to create a presence on the internety, and add "friends" to their network.

Social networking sites have become incredibly popular around the world. According to recent statistics from Alexa Internet, Bebo, a leading social networking site, is the number one trafficked website in Ireland with around one million users.

Nimble.ie is hoping to woo people away from established social networking sites, particularly Irish Beboers, by offering more entertaining functions than its competitors, and by including plenty of local information to keep users up to date on news and new developments

The website started out as a project by Per Jacobsson when he was undertaking an MSc in Business & Entrepreneurship in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). His project was recently accepted for the Hothouse programme run by the PDC, a DIT off-shoot which offers help for start-ups with commercial potential.

While the website started off as a hobby, Jacobsson realised that it could prove popular with internet users after carrying out research into Irish Bebo users' opinions about the social networking site. The feedback led him to include a range of extra functions apparently not covered by Bebo or its rivals. These include a Hot or Not functionality where users can rate pictures of other Nimble.ie users, local event postings, daily updated comics, online radio stations, games, jokes, movies and games reviews.

Nimble.ie was formally launched at the end of March, and while it only has around 70 users at present, these have all been gained by word of mouth according to Jacobsson. The website is gearing up to launch an advertising campaign throughout Ireland and is sponsoring the Future Fashion show which takes place in Trinity College over the weekend.

"There's nothing saying that users have to choose either Bebo or Nimble because they are both free. But, the key success factor for all of these social networking sites is that the young target audience aren't particularly loyal to a certain brand, they just go to who has the most fun and up-to-date functions on their site... so it's all about staying ahead of the competition," Jacobsson told ENN.

"Our research has highlighted what Bebo in particular is missing and [that is what] we've included on Nimble.ie so I believe that we'll prove popular with social networking users who want to stay in touch," Jacobsson added.

Copyright © 2007, ENN

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