In the early days of the Internet – social networking websites such as Geocities (1994) and Tripod (1995) focused on bringing people together to interact and share personal information. Some sites went a little further by having its users link to each other via email – ie. Classmates.com (1995) and sixdegrees.com (1997). But most of these sites simply weren’t profitable and eventually shut down. It wasn’t until the years between 2002 and 2004 that three sites emerged and caused online social networking to become part of mainstream users globally. These three sites were Friendster.com, myspace.com and bebo.com. In 2006 Facebook.com opened to communities outside US Colleges and became the largest growing site in the world.
Social networking then flourished and became a component of business internet strategy - various social networking sites have sprung up to cater to every demographic. It is estimated that there are over 200 social networking sites using existing and emerging social networking models. Twitter.com (2009) eclipsed many other social networking services and even though lacks some essential aspects of SNS – has allowed add-on services that distinguishes it from the rest.
Reasons why your business should have social media presence:
1. It is a free online tool that has the potential to target your clients directly
2. It is also a way to target your clients right now – there is no waiting period
3. It is a way for you to interact with your clients on the same level
4. Social networking also creates brand awareness of your product/service
5. Social Media can act as an online reputation management tool
6. It is great tool for recruiting new college graduates
7. You can easily learn about new technologies and competitors in social networking sites
8. Can be used to generate leads for prospective customers
Companies are able to drive traffic to their websites while encouraging consumers to have discussions on how to improve or change products or services.
Social Networking is good for Business
In late 2008, Reuters.com published a report that Facebook, Bebo and Myspace are actually good for business and that bosses should not stop their staff from using social networking sites because it could actually benefit their firms. The report by Demos said encouraging employees to use networking technologies to build relationships and closer links with colleagues and customers could help businesses rather than damage them.
Robert Ainger, Director of Orange Business which co-produced the report said that it would be wrong of businesses to ignore the importance of networking in the current economic climate. “The report points out that the value of networking within an economic downturn is perhaps more important than ever and I believe it could mean the difference between a business collapsing or capitalizing on the tricky conditions.”
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This Article is going to be published in WH's July 2009 Issue