SOCIAL NETWORKING

Posted on July 8, 2020 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals, often through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google.

Based on the six degrees of separation concept (the idea that any two people on the planet could make contact through a chain of no more than five intermediaries), social networking establishes interconnected online communities (sometimes known as social graphs) that help people make contacts that would be good for them to know, but that they would be unlikely to have met otherwise.

Depending on the social media platform, members may be able to contact any other member. In other cases, members can contact anyone they have a connection to, and subsequently anyone that contact has a connection to, and so on. Some services require members to have a pre-existing connection to contact other members.

While social networking has gone on almost as long as societies themselves have existed, the unparalleled potential of the Web to facilitate such connections has led to an exponential and ongoing expansion of that phenomenon. In addition to social media platforms, the capacity for social interaction and collaboration is increasingly built into business applications.

Social networks

Examples: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Why people use these networks: To connect with people (and brands) online.

How they can benefit your business: Let us count the ways. Market research, brand awareness, lead generation, relationship building, customer service… the list is pretty much endless.

Social networks sometimes called ‘relationship networks’ help people and organizations connect online to share information and ideas.

While these networks are not the oldest type of social media, they certainly define it now. These channels started as relatively simple services – for example, Twitter was the place to answer the question “what are you doing?” and Facebook was where you might check the relationship status of your cute university classmate.

Now, and especially since the rise of the mobile internet, these networks have become hubs that transform nearly every aspect of modern life – from reading news to sharing vacation photos to finding a new job – into a social experience.

If you are not using these core networks yet as part of your social media marketing plan – or if you are looking for ideas to improve your existing strategy – you will find a wealth of valuable information on these social networks online.

Media sharing networks

Examples: Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube.

Why people use these networks: To find and share photos, video, live video, and other media online.

How they can benefit your business: Like the major relationship networks, these sites are invaluable for brand awareness, lead generation, audience engagement, and most of your other social marketing goals.

Media sharing networks give people and brands a place to find and share media online, including photos, video, and live video.

The lines between media sharing networks and social networks are blurring these days as social relationship networks like Facebook and Twitter add live video, augmented reality, and other multimedia services to their platforms. However, what distinguishes media sharing networks is that the sharing of media is their defining and primary purpose.

While the majority of posts on relationship networks contain text, posts on networks like Instagram and Snapchat start with an image or video, to which users may decide to add content like captions, mentions of other users, or filters that make you look like a bunny.

Similarly, on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, video is the primary mode of communication.

When determining whether or not your business needs to establish a presence on a media sharing network, it is important to consider your available resources. If there is one thing the most successful brands on platforms like YouTube or Instagram have in common, it is a thoroughly planned mission and carefully designed media assets, usually following a specific theme.

Discussion forums

Examples: Quora, Digg, Reddit

Why people use these networks: To find, discuss, and share news, information, and opinions.

How they can benefit your business: These networks can be excellent resources for market research. Done right, you can also advertise on them, though you will need to be careful to keep your advertisements and posts separate.

Discussion forums are one of the oldest types of social media.

Before we connected to our first university friends on Facebook, we discussed pop culture, current affairs, and asked for help on forums. Take a look at the wide reach and massive user numbers on forums such as reddit, Quora, and Digg and you will see that the public’s thirst for collective knowledge and wisdom remains unquenchable.

These are the sites where people go to find out what everyone’s talking about and weigh in on it – and users on these sites generally are not shy about expressing their opinions. While social relationship networks are increasingly implementing measures to reduce anonymity and create a safe space online, discussion forums generally allow users to remain anonymous.

Bookmarking and content curation networks

Examples: Pinterest, Flipboard
Why people use these networks: To discover, save, share, and discuss new and trending content and media.

How they can benefit your business: These networks can be highly effective for driving brand awareness, customer engagement, and website traffic.

Bookmarking and content curation networks help people discover, save, share, and discuss new and trending content and media.

These networks are a hotbed of creativity and inspiration for people seeking information and ideas, and by adding them to your social media marketing plan, you will open up new channels for building brand awareness and engaging with your audience and customers.

Bookmarking networks like Pinterest help people discover, save, and share visual content. An easy first step for getting started with Pinterest is to make your website bookmark-friendly. This entails optimizing headlines and images on your blog and/or website for the feeds these networks use to access and share your content. You should also pay close attention to the images featured on your site or blog – these are the window displays of Pinterest, so you want them to be good representations of your content.

Content curation networks like Flipboard are similar to bookmarking networks, but with a focus on finding and sharing articles and other text content. You can create your own Flipboard magazine to sort through the most engaging content on your topic of choice from third-party sources, and to showcase your own content.

Consumer review networks

Examples: TripAdvisor, Zomato, Yelp

Why people use these networks: To find, review, and share information about brands, products, and services, as well as restaurants, travel destinations, and more.

How they can benefit your business: Positive reviews bring social proof to your claims. Handled well, you can resolve issues with unhappy customers.

Consumer review networks give people a place to review brands, businesses, products, services, travel spots, and just about anything else.

Reviews are a type of content that adds a lot of value to many websites and online services – think about the buying experience on Amazon or the experience of searching for a local business on Google Maps. Consumer review networks take it one step further by building networks around the review as a core part of the value they provide.

Location-based review services such as TripAdvisor and Zomato continue to grow as personal social networks adopt geo-location and more users choose to consult the internet along with their friends for recommendations of best dining spots.

There are sites to review anything from hotels and restaurants to the business where you are thinking of applying for a job – and user reviews have more weight than ever before.

It’s vital for your brand to have the ability to attract positive user reviews and handle negative ones. To do this, you can select a customer success team member to address reviews on sites relevant to your business. Entrust them with answering any questions or concerns from clients with average or negative experiences, and see if there is anything that can be done on your end to turn a possible detractor into a fan.

Blogging and publishing networks

Examples: WordPress, Tumblr, Medium

Why people use these networks: To publish, discover, and comment on content online.

How they can benefit your business: Content marketing can be a highly effective way to engage with your audience, build your brand, and generate leads and sales.

Blogging and publishing networks give people and brands tools to publish content online in formats that encourage discovery, sharing, and commenting. These networks range from more traditional blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger to micro-blogging services like Tumblr and interactive social publishing platforms like Medium.

If your promotion strategy includes content marketing (and if it does not, you might want to consider it), your business can gain visibility by keeping a blog. A blog does not just help increase awareness of your business and generate more engaging content for your social channels such as Facebook; it can also help carve out a niche for your brand as a thought leader in your industry.

Social shopping networks

Examples: Lazada, Shoppe, Zalora

Why people use these networks: To spot trends, follow brands, share great finds, and make purchases.

How they can benefit your business: Brands can build awareness, increase engagement, and sell products via new channels.

Social shopping networks make e-commerce engaging by adding a social element.

Of course, elements of e-commerce appear in many other types of social networks – for example, Pinterest features Buyable Pins, and Instagram provides call-to-action tools in the form of “shop now” and “install now” buttons. Social shopping networks take it one step further by building their site around a focused integration between the social experience and the shopping experience.

Services like Zalora allow small businesses and individual crafters to sell their products without an existing brick-and-mortar location, and networks such as Lazada aggregate products from different retailers in a single online marketplace.

Interest-based networks

Examples: Goodreads, Houzz, Last.fm

Why people use these networks: To connect with others around a shared interest or hobby.

How they can benefit your business: If there is a network devoted to the kind of products or services you provide; these networks can be a great place to engage with your audience and build brand awareness.

Interest-based networks take a more targeted approach than the big social networks do by focusing solely on a single subject, such as books, music, or home design.

While there are groups and forums on other networks that are devoted to these interests, focusing solely on a single area of interest allows these networks to deliver an experience tailor-made for the wants and needs of the people and communities who share that interest. For example, on Houzz, home designers can browse the work of other designers, create collections of their own work, and connect with people looking for their services.

Networks such as Last.fm (for musicians and music lovers) and Goodreads (for authors and avid readers) also provide an experience designed specifically for their niche audience.

Sharing economy networks

Examples:  Airbnb, Grab, Taskrabbit

Why people use these networks: To advertise, find, share, buy, sell, and trade products and services between peers.

How they can benefit your business: If you happen to offer the kind of products or services traded here, these networks can be another channel for bringing in business. (For example, if you operate a bed-and-breakfast, Airbnb could help you find customers.)

‘Sharing economy’ networks also called ‘collaborative economy networks,’ connect people online for the purpose of advertising, finding, sharing, buying, selling, and trading products and services.

And while you are probably already familiar with big-name networks like Airbnb and Grab, there are a growing number of niche networks you can find and use.

While most marketers will find these networks too specifically targeted or restrictive, if you happen to provide the kind of product or service that is traded on a particular network, you might want to look into it as another channel to generate leads and sales.

Anonymous social networks

Examples: Whisper, ASKfm,

Why people use these networks: To gossip, vent, snoop, and sometimes bully.

How they can benefit your business: They almost certainly cannot. Steer clear.

Last – and least – are anonymous social networks. While major social networks are making increasing efforts to hold users accountable for their social activity, these sites go the other way and allow users to post content anonymously.

These networks might sound like a fun place to blow off steam. However, they have been shown to provide a consequence-free forum for cyber-bullying and have been linked to teenage suicides.

Whether you are exploring new potential markets for your business or just looking for new channels to connect with your customers, there are many types of social media you can use. Some are pretty much mandatory for any business; others are useful for a smaller subset of niche businesses; and some you should steer clear of entirely.

Whatever your needs and your goals, it is a safe bet you will find what you are looking for somewhere on the social networks.

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