First there were blogs. Now social networks are popping up everywhere. From MySpace to LinkedIn, these cyber matchmaking sites are designed to connect people with as little in common as the movies they like or their favorite colors. The simple goal of these website is to reveal the connections between people so that when you add a “friend” to your network, they can see all your other friends and vice versa. The video below is a plain English explanation of how social networks work.
There are a host of social networks out there. One of the first to be popular was MySpace. Like the Internet in its infancy, MySpace was free to grow and evolve. Unfortunately, also like the early Internet, there wasn’t much monitoring and regulation. When child exploitation and social bullying were traced back to MySpace, the industry became more cautious and self-regulating. Facebook and LinkedIn followed, with more security and controls in place. Still, the user experience depended on the users themselves and their ability to be discriminate when uploading certain content. There are other flavors of social networks such as Naymz (reputation network) and Plaxo (contact management). But in the end, these networks accomplished what they set out to do, which is to make connecting people easy.
Businesses should take advantage of these facilitated introductions to a new population of prospects that leverage the existing personal relationship. It’s a virtual referral program. It’s a new marketing channel. It is PR on a viral platform. In this case, the spread of the virus is deliberate and hopefully productive. When coupled with other social network technologies such as Twitter and Digg, your message can be perpetuated to a network of social networks, thus creating a macro-cosmic audience. There is very little investment except for time and the technology footprint for businesses is very low or almost non-existent. There are some security concerns but most have been or are being addressed. Before adding any applications to your website or network check with your systems administrator.
Then Twytter (Type Whatever You’re Thinking To Everyone Reading) away!