Archive for January, 2010

Social media is becoming an overly used and highly abused term. It generically refers to the idea of being linked through various social networking websites. And even if their usefulness seems like a lot of hype to you (and a lot of it is), your presence on the internet could be vastly affected by your love or lack of use of social media.

Here is a listing of a few social networking websites and what being there could mean to you and your business:

LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com): A social networking site for professionals. On the low end, it’s a resume dumping ground that allows your colleges and coworkers to write endorsements for your work. On the high end, it’s a living Rolodex allowing access to various people with a variety of talents you would normally not have direct access to. This access comes from the ability to see information from people that are directly linked to the people you are directly linked to, to a certain number of levels.

MySpace (http://www.myspace.com): Not much love for what was once the king of social media sites, MySpace is being transform in a place for musicians to showcase their stuff. With customizable pages, MySpace was the early leader in the social media explosion. Over customization lead to a glut of slow loading and gaudy looking pages, and when the crisper, cleaner, less customizable Facebook became open to the general public, lead to a lot of abandon profiles. Because of the music library for mainstream and independent artist, and the migration of parents to Facebook, MySpace is still popular with the teen & young adult sets.

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com): It’s a time sink, it’s a way to connect with old friends from the past, and it’s big business we become more accustomed to the habit of sharing too much information with others. Facebook originally came to life as a networking site for college kids, with the bar to entry being a registered .edu email address. It was opened up to high schoolers, and then based on growing backlash from the MySpace community, unleashed on the world at large. It is a great platform for sharing web links, pictures, video, and general ‘this is what I am doing’ information, and with applications that make the massive site fit almost perfectly into mobile phones, Facebook does offer anecdotal evidence of the loss of popularity in the use of regular email.

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com): Twitter is a networking tool that many people don’t get at first. The original mission of the site was to offer the ability to tell your followers what you were doing–literally things like ‘i’m eating a sandwich’ or ’bout to hit the club to tonight’–in 140 characters or less, giving you the ability to stay informed via text message. Thanks to an open API and thousands of people seeing ways to make a few bucks off the service (well before Twitter itself figured it out), Twitter now offers a way to blast out information pseudo-instant message style to anyone who deems you worthy of taking up a spot as a follower. But you’re going to just have to jump in and try it. Twitter is a service that people deem useful and fun, or worthless and stupid. There are very few in-betweens.

Friendster (http://www.friendster.com): Just like there were good MP3 players before Apple release the iPod, there where popular social networking sites well before MySpace and Facebook. Friendster was one of the most popular sites back in the 90’s, long before anyone had a real use for or need of abuse of social media. This service is still around, and still offering the best service for those who have stuck around, but comes in as a distant afterthought, if any, when people think of where to be found online.

As the internet has become a tool for consumers to scope out their options before having to deal with shop owners, the importance of having a web presence has grown as well. With the explosion in the use of social media, the need to be noticed on these platforms is growing for business professionals and companies. Choosing the right platform is key, along with following some simple rules of engagement to ensure you don’t get pinched for abuse on any particular service. If your question is should I be in the social media game, the best way to answer that is to jump in and observe the community. The barrier to entry is low, and you’ll find out pretty quickly if you fit in.

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