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Tagged, Not it: My Brief (and Creepy) Encounter with a “Social Discovery” Site

Call me naive, but when I read about a social networking site called Tagged that is blowing it up with their user engagement, I had to learn more.  I admit, I had never heard of the “social discovery” site, where as the Founder/CEO recently described it,  people go “to make new social relationships.” If you’re wondering how that’s any different from say, Facebook, his answer is this: “Facebook is the place where you maintain your current 150…Tagged will be the place where you refresh that 150.”

As of Sunday night, a quick Google search for Tagged only brought up the site itself, a Wikipedia page, this Mashable article, and the company’s social media. Maybe that’s because the buzz is just beginning for this company,  but with over 300 million members  (according to Tagged.com), it seems there are a few missing pieces to this picture. Am I wrong to think that 300 million members is a whole lotta people for a social networking site to score when it has received little to no coverage since launching in 2004?

It may have been at that point that I decided to jump right in and set up an account.

The website lays out your options pretty clearly. Sign up to: 1) meet new people, 2) play games, or 3) share your interests (aka join a chat room). Keeping in mind that this site makes your information available to everyone, the red flags were fast coming: to create an account, you have to provide a few key pieces of information. Name and email seem fine, but the birthdate and zip code seem unnecessary. Once you give them what they want, you’re taken to a member database where you can begin trolling hundreds (ahem, 300 million) profile pictures to see if there’s anyone you want to meet. Immediately, the layout and design evoke some kind of online personals site rather a place where any legitimate connections, romantic or otherwise, are forming.

It may have been at this point that I got the creeps and scrambled to deactivate my profile.

Soon after that, I found this 2009 article about how the NY Attorney General sued Tagged.com for deceptive marketing practices and for allegedly stealing the identities of more than 60 million people.

Proceed with Caution

Okay, so starting with the obvious: from everything I saw, this site seems more akin to some kind of free online dating site (and I use “dating” loosely) than to something competing with the likes of Facebook or Tumblr. While “social discovery” sites may be on the rise, my personal feeling is that anytime a site promotes meeting “special new friends for free,” both the intentions and the caliber of members can take a fast dive south. This may be the case for Tagged…or maybe I just found myself in the wrong place. At any rate, here’s my big “Proceed with Caution!” sign to anyone enticed by the recent ComScore report to include this site in their social media strategy.

Anyone out there using Tagged to form meaningful, personal connections? Do I have it all wrong about this site? Could social discovery actually be the next big thing as some data suggests? Please share!

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi Valarie

    Thanks for noticing Tagged and for your honest and fair review. While Tagged is indeed loved by millions around the world, we’re working hard to improve and create a “new” Tagged that is more than just dating, flirting and social games. Since we do not currently meet the main “use case” for many Mashable readers, we are somewhat under the radar, however, it was great to see Mashable recognize some of the impressive engagement statistics that we have today.

    Here’s a little more background for you and your readers and I look forward to keeping in touch with future updates too!

    Tagged is the Social Network for meeting new people. Tagged created the category of Social Discovery and while other social networks are designed primarily to keep in touch with those you already know – Tagged is the place to meet new friends.

    In 2011 Tagged had over 100 million registered members worldwide and with the acquisition of hi5 in late 2011 – another 220 million were added. So now, with over 330 million members, Tagged is one of the world’s largest social networks and the largest in the social discovery space.

    People on Tagged use the site for making new friends, dating and flirting and generally just meeting new people. Tagged has evolved social games to make them truly social and several popular titles are designed specifically to help new people connect with each other. You can also browse people using demographic and geographic filters and make new friends worldwide.

    Tagged was indeed originally a teen oriented site, however, its audience now has a median age of over 30 and 75% of its members are 21+.

    In the USA, as of April 2012, Experian Hitwise now ranks Tagged as the 5th most visited Social Network behind Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

    Tagged was founded in San Francisco in 2004, raised venture funding in 2005, from The Mayfield Fund and has been profitable since 2008. It is an INC 500 Fastest Growing Company and Forbes named it one of America’s Most Promising Companies.

    Please let me know if I can provide any additional information!

    Steve

    ps – great blog you have! : )

    ss

    May 10, 2012
    • Hi Steve, thanks – this is great info! I look forward to keeping Tagged on my radar then, since it sounds like you have some exciting plans in the works. With the engagement levels you’re getting (congrats on that, btw) there is certainly tons of potential for the site to evolve into something that could be really useful for businesses and professionals. If there are any new initiatives or site upgrades you’d like to share, feel free to send them my way. I’d be happy to do a follow-up post. Thanks for stopping by! Glad you like the blog!

      -Valerie

      May 10, 2012

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