Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is doing it. So what is social networking?
In simple terms, social networking is building an online community of people who share common interests or are interested in finding out about the interests of other people. Majority of social networking is done using the social media services available online for free.
And why should you care about the social media frenzy?*
Still not convinced? Watch this short video on Social Media Revolution to help you understand the power of social media in the world today.
Twitter is a social networking device that allows users to send and read other users' updates, which are known as 'Tweets'. Tweets are typically short and sharp as they can only be up to 140 characters in length and most messages by default are published publicly. This service is widely used by businesses to launch campaigns and to increase brand awareness. Twitter is also great for posting reviews and comments so it can be used a powerful platform for improving customer satisfaction by being able to directly listen to what the customer is saying about your brand. To find out more about using this tool read our article on 'How to use Twitter effectively for your business'.
Facebook has become an extremely popular tool for individuals to connect with friends and family online and share personal information such as pictures, social events and birthdays. Facebook can also be used to connect with customers. Tips on how to use it for your business.
LinkedIn is a professional tool used by businesses to network online. Individuals can use it to build an online portfolio by listing their work experience and gathering references so companies can use it as a tool to hire staff. But it is really only used by businesses and does not reach customers.
Then there is Bebo which is like Facebook but largely used by teenagers to share gossip and personal information.
Myspace was one of the first social networking sites, though over time it has lost a lot of its popularity to Facebook. It is still being used by musicians as a way to promote their albums and concerts.
Youtube and Flickr are designed for sharing images and video. They offer free space where users can put up holiday pictures or videos of things they are interested in. This medium is less about the conversation and dialogue.
Delicious was designed as a simple tool that allows users to categorise and save their favourite web links to one centralised online space and share them with other like minded people around the world.
*(Stats taken from Nielson, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009)