Me.com has launched a new tool called SNAPP that lets people put together their own social networking hubs. Like Ning.com, which launched a similar service in March, SNAPP gives users ready-made tools such as a blog, live chat, forums, and shared photo albums to create a fairly full-featured site without knowing any HTML. SNAPP also integrates Me.com's social networking system, so existing Me.com users will be able to join your network without any special signup.
While some of the tools and features are aimed at the younger social networking crowd (like the am i hot? rating tool), Me.com is also offering network owners some nice throw-ins, like traffic stats, custom CSS, and the option to promote loyal users with prestige status.
Building a site with SNAPP is fairly easy, although I found it to be visually overwhelming. Me.com gives its users a lot of ready-made tools, so if you're trying to go lean and custom configure, you'll be spending a lot of time deleting and editing superfluous things that have been included in some of the templates. Compared to building a site with Ning, it's certainly not as flashy or straightforward. SNAPP forgoes a drag-and-drop builder for a tabbed interface where each tool gets its own page.
Me.com is taking an interesting twist on these new services, giving users three tiers of SNAPP service: free, pro and network. All three have integration with Google Adsense, with varying rates of revenue sharing for the integrated advertising. The service is promoting it as a way to make money off visitors, which is entirely possible using the custom branding and high percentage revenue sharing you get with the pro and network services. Whether or not the savvy network builder will see the benefit in using these subscription-based premium services over building and hosting their own site has yet to be seen.
Me.com has put together an explanatory video of SNAPP.