I have to admit, when I saw “CyWorld” in the news recently, I had to find out what it was. This stems from the fact that my Alma Mater’s (Iowa State University) Mascot is a Cyclone who happens to go by the name of “Cy.” I presumed that CyWorld must be the place where all of the hardcore Cyclone fans went to hang-out on the web.
Once I was introduced to CyWorld, I realized it has nothing to do with the Cyclones, and on top of it, it’s been in the news off and on for the last year and I was just now learning of it. Where have I been?
In case you’re just as unaware of CyWorld as I was until recently, here’s some quick background info. CyWorld was started in South Korea and quickly turned into a Social Network giant there. Last year in late July they launched in the US, and at the time speculators said it could possibly crush MySpace. While it hasn’t exactly done that, it’s doing pretty good here in the states.
What is CyWorld?
As I mentioned, it’s a social network but it has it’s own unique vibe and features that set it apart from any other social network. People make the world go round there. The entire site revolves around buddy relationships and a user’s “mini-home.” A mini-home is a room that a user can decorate as they please and add furniture and other items.
Note: I used their “random Minihome” feature to checkout what CyWorld is all about. Most of the images included in this post come from a random Minihome that I came across.
Those items that fill the room are purchased with virtual currency. The virtual currency isn’t free however, users purchase the virtual currency with real currency, and now CyWorld has its own booming economy.
The thought of decorating a room didn’t sound all too exciting to me, and I couldn’t imagine that it would be that exciting for other people. However, I reminded myself of how much time and effort people put into customizing MySpace pages, and a “mini-home” really is no different than a customized MySpace page.
Following along with the Minihome (or your personal space), you have a Miniroom which they describe as “a place to tell stories and bring your dreams to life”, and a Minime – your avatar.
Who goes to CyWorld?
Well, the general trend is that the younger 20 something crowd hangs out there. Essentially, the same crowd that spends hours upon hours on MySpace and Facebook are probably great candidates for CyWorld. In South Korea, it has been estimated that a whopping 90 percent of all people in their 20s have an account on CyWorld, and 25% of the total population are registered users.
Terms you should know
The first time you venture over there, it’s like you’re in a whole new World. I guess really, you are. There are terms that will cause you to stop and say, “what”? For starters, you may see the term “Minihompy,” this is just another way of saying “Mini Home.” Other terms that will be helpful to know:
Acorn: Acorn’s aren’t just for small animals to eat. At CyWorld, Acorns play the role as the virtual currency. They hold just as much value to CyWorld as the users themselves do. Without it, they would not be able to keep going because remember, virtual currency is purchased with real currency.
Paper: When you see the term paper, it’s just used as the name for their blog service.
Clubs: Much like a club you’d join in school, clubs at CyWorld are rooms where users can go and discuss something .
Is there room for another social network?
I really can’t believe all of the social networks that are trying to make a name for themselves in a market that has been saturated for a long time. CyWorld was doing so well in South Korea, it made me wonder why they decided to take their social network abroad to the U.S.. But then at the same time, it made me wonder why MySpace decided to move beyond just the U.S. and into other countries.
My overall impression of CyWorld is that it’s cute, and somewhat complicated. It’s interesting though, and actually a bit intriguing because it’s a social network much different than anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s also a pretty big money maker with a different strategy for monetizing.
If anything, head over there and view some of the Minihomes to get an idea of what it’s all about. It really is interesting to see what some of the Minihomes and Minirooms look like, not to mention the Minime’s that people create.