I understand the appeal of the big online social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, etc.) conceptually but have never really embraced them personally.  I just don't use them. 

Part of it is that I'm too old for most of them.  But mostly I find them  uninteresting. 

So I'm sort of surprised by my own interest in the social networking site Vox.   What makes Vox intriguing to me is that it isn't really a social networking site – it is a hybrid social networking site/ blogging platform.  Like Livejournal and MSN Spaces, the focus with Vox is on writing and sharing stuff (photos, videos, books) as opposed to creating some sort of oversized online persona.  It is refreshing.  So with that, here's a quick review of the service.

Things I Liked About Vox

  • The Friends feature is there, but is demphasized.  On Vox, friends are referred to as Neighbors. On your Vox page, people can see who you are neighbors with but at no point does Vox actually tally how many neighbors you have.  By demphasizing the number, it takes away some of the frieds obsession that characterizes sites like MySpace and Facebook.  Nice decision.
  • Vox gives you a lot of control over which of your content people see.  On Vox, you can categorize your Neighbors as family, friend or neither.  Every piece of content you add you can limit access to any or all of those groups
  • The entire backend user interface is really slick while also being user friendly.  A good use of Ajax.
  • It is super easy to add photos/music/videos/books to your posts.  You can actually search sites like Youtube from the Vox, click on the video you want and it is inserted into your post.  That's it. This isn't that simple of a task on sites like MySpace or even WordPress.
  • The profile/blog pages look fantastic and there is a great selection of templates you can choose from.  For an example, you can view my profile here.
  • Vox emphasizes community.  The Vox homepage is all about discovering interesting blog posts, music, videos, photos and books posted by other users.  The emphasis is on making new connections based on shared interests and passions.

Things I'm Not Sure About

  • Vox doesn't really give you that much control over what your profile looks like.  There are lots of templates to choose from and options within those templates, but you have to work within the VOX infrastructure.
  • Vox doesn't work with external blogging services.  As an example, according to Andrew from our office you can't install any external blog stats programs on Vox.

Basically, Vox is a platform for casual bloggers.  The focus is on simplicity as opposed to giving you control over every aspect of your profile/blog.

Bottom Line

Vox is an extremely well put together product that I would recommend highly to anyone interested in pursuing personal blogging with some social networking thrown in.  It is dead simple to use and has all the features most people want and need. 

Note that Vox is in private Beta at this point.  I have a few invitations left so leave a note in the comments if you want an invite.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.