By this time you have undoubtedly heard the term “social networking”. But nobody really takes the time to explain it, do they? Social networking, social media, web 2.0 — these buzzwords were picked up by the mainstream media after they caught on with trendy Internet browsers. Just spouting out these terms though doesn’t do you any good, you have to know what social networking really is and how it can be capitalized on for online business development.
Social networking is basically the movement of website content being generated and created by the users rather than the owners of a website. This makes for a much more interactive experience for browsers, who can directly participate with a website they use and who can create their own presence and communities within the Internet as a whole.
There are many different kinds of social networking sites and most can be used in one way or another for online business development. The most popular social networking sites are the friend and profile sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. On these sites you create a profile, list your interests, share photographs and stories, join groups and make friends with other users. On MySpace your business can have a direct presence as a business itself. However on Facebook you’ll need to present you individually rather than the business itself, to prevent direct advertising.
Another kind of web 2.0 site that can be used for online business development are the link and media sharing communities that are becoming more and more popular. These include popular sites such as Digg, Propeller, Reddit, StumbleUpon and many, many others, including smaller ones that deal with specific niches and topics. Users on these sites submit links to articles, pictures and videos and can vote on the ones they saw and liked. When a link gets voted on, it becomes more prominently displayed on the site, building a cycle where, if a link catches on, it can lead to a huge boost of publicity and traffic.
One of the fastest growing sites on the entire Internet is Twitter. Twitter is another social networking site that people are beginning to see the advantages of for online business development. On this site your messages are limited to 140 characters and can be sent out and received via cell phone as well as via the Internet. Other web 2.0 sites include everything from your basic blogs, to video sites such as You Tube and complex simulated environments such as Second Life.
If one thing can be taught about social networking for online business development, it is that you can’t be a one-way stream of information. Social networking is a two way street, which means that you have to do more than just submit your own information or sound like a sales pitch. You have to reach out to other users, comment on their submissions, vote on their articles and so forth. If you really dive into the world of social networking and follow the unwritten accepted forms of communication specific to each different site, you’ll see that it can be a quite powerful method of online promotion and marketing.
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