Grou.ps is a site that allows users to build their own social networking site. The site is ideal for groups and organizations. Grou.ps provides a complete social networking environment for the user's group. Setup is fairly straightforward – the user chooses a web address for their group (a subdomain of grou.ps), enters title and description information, enters profile information, selects from one of many available themes for the group's site, and invites users to the group. The user can then control all aspects of the group site from the Administrate section of the site. The user that creates the site is by default the administrator of the site, but other users can be given administrative rights. The main features that are available to users of the group's site are Profiles, People, Group Chat, Forums, Blogs, Photos, Videos, Games, Calendar and Wiki. Additional features which can be added by the administrator include complete control over profile questions, Facebook applications, language customization, polls, moderation of content, member ranking/rewards system, create new pages, alerts and monetization using Google AdSense. Also available from the administration section are the ability to send group messages, the ability to send a weekly newsletter, and a Statistics section which shows usage statistics for the group's site.
San Francisco, CA-based Grou.ps was launched in 2008. Emre Sokullu is Chief Architect, Mustafa Sapcili is Platform Lead and Serkan Alp is UI designer of the site. The site has undergone continuous growth since launch, and boasts more than 1 million registered users of all groups worldwide.
Competition to Grou.ps comes from sites such as Groupsite and the major social networking sites. Groupsite, like Grou.ps, provides a complete solution for group sites, but does not have as many social networking features as Grou.ps. The major social networking sites are competitors in that anyone can start a group on most of them, and use the site's built-in features. Yahoo Groups and Google Groups are also competitors, but are not social network oriented.
Group sites built using the site are very professional-looking, and are quite responsive, Page loads happen quickly, as do file uploads and downloads. Navigation is intuitive – the user interface is the same for users and administrators, except for the Administrate section. Advertising is displayed on the site for a free account, but is relatively unobtrusive.
Registration to Grou.ps is free and is required to use the site. Users can also log into the site using Facebook connect. The registration process asks for site URL, email address and password. Validation of the email address is not required. A free account is limited to 3GB of storage and has advertising displayed on the group's site.
3 premium features are available. For $5 per month, the storage limit is increased by 5GB with unlimited bandwidth. For $10 per month, advertising can be removed from the group's site. Also for $10 per month, the site offers Premium Support with 24-hour response and a maximum of 30 support tickets per month.
Grou.ps is recommended to any group or organization that needs to establish a web presence that allows their members to interact with one another in a social networking environment. The site provides a complete solution to build a social networking site. The features are well-designed, and administration of the group site is surprisingly easy.