By E. Mahony – spotlightideas.co.uk
Social networking is the gathering of a group of people in work, recreational or educational, life with the aim of individuals in that group being of mutual benefit to each other in some shape or form.
Nowadays, social networking is most commonly understood to mean the gathering of people together on the Internet – on general Internet message boards, bookmarking sites and friends of friends networking sites (FSOF).
Well-known social network sites
Bookmarking / sites:
Friend of friend social networking sites FOSF:
Flickr – photo sharing
Friendster – general
LinkedIn – business
My Sapce – general
Bebo – general
Classmates.com – school, college, work
Facebook – general
Friends Reunited – school, college, work
Tagged.com – general
Twitter – instant messaging
Social Media Sites:
Some bookmarking and some FSOF sites, as well as other sort of social networking sites fall into the groups of social media sites (sites that offer some kind of media interactivity)
Digg – blogging
Flickr – photo sharing
You Tube – videos
Social Networking and Advertising
How do social networking sites make money?
Facebook, for example, is widely regarded to be worth billions (up to $15 billion it has been valued at) and yet its total revenues for 2007 was $150 million (and other leading social networking sites give similar results (relative to the market value of the sites overall).
Facebook has been trying to generate more income through advertising, with , for example, Project Beacon (offering free advertising space in exchange for useful consumer data from other companies that can be used to target consumers more effectively) and social ads (targeting ads at a particular social group). But not with the results they would have hoped for (yet, at least).
At the moment, knowing how to make decent money (at least to match the decent price tags that the leading social networking sites have been valued at) is something that the leading minds in this business are working hard to crack.
Dilemmas the social network sites face in regards to consumers and advertising:
- Consumers are generally less tolerant of advertising than previous generations
- Social networking is about building relationships where advertising might be seen to get in the way of this
- Social network communities are notorious for moving onto the next big thing (social network site)
Social Networking and Marketing
The social networking site is, increasingly, been viewed as a useful platform for helping to create brand awareness. The jury is still out, to an important degree, about how successful social networking can be, as well as how best to use it, from a marketing perspective.
How Social Networking sites can spread negative stories about brands very quickly:
Certainly companies need to be aware of the negative effect social networking sites can have on brands in general. It just takes one very disgruntled customer to talk about a bad experience they had with a particular brand for this to spread like wild-fire on a social networking site.
Blogging versus social networking:
Many people have left, or neglected to an important degree, their blogs for social networking, mainly because it’s much easier to meet lots more people on a social networking site than running your blog. But at a cost (I believe).
Yes, blogging can be seen as if the blogger runs the show (writes the posts / moderates the comments) and that is one good reason why blogging / visiting other people’s blogs isn’t as important as it once was, perhaps.
However, blogs are still popular. Bloggers can offer their audience something unique. They can offer them something interesting and useful that, perhaps, the audience couldn’t find elsewhere. The blogger is in charge of their brand (mainly content, but, also how the site looks, as well as being able to attract a little more traffic via key words and so on). They can develop their brand as they go a long. Although the audience might not be as big as that of someone’s on a social networking site, the blog’s audience is often going to be more relevant (and loyal) than on a social networking site.
Many companies see the blog as their main online marketing tool. And they see social networking sites as another set of tools to help create brand awareness for their blog (and brand in general). So in many cases social networking sites should be seen as a useful addition to blogs, not a replacement for.
Jobs in social networking
Most social networking jobs are technical, design or marketing / PR -focused (either working for a social networking company, or in a company that is involved in social networking, or for a company that carries out services on behalf of other companies that are involved in social networking). Like in many jobs in the digital / new media environment, social networking jobs will often involve other areas of this industry (i.e not just social networking).
Future of social networking
Clearly, social networking is an important part of everyday life for many people, and the signs are that it will become even more important in the future.
The large networking sites, as already mentioned, will have to focus on new ways, whether they be advertising or not, to earn revenue. They will, also, have to face increased competition, as new social networking sites are increasingly, springing up like mushrooms on the Internet.
Social networking and the mobile phone industry:
Social networking is beginning to become important now in the mobile phone industry. According to the market research company Informa Telecoms, 2.3 percent of all mobile users (of the total world population), are already using the mobile phone for social networking purposes (chat services, multimedia sharing, and so on). The company predicts that the 2.3 percent will increase to 12.5 percent within five years. The telecommunication industry is predicted to be involved in this, to an important degree, but the social networking companies, currently, focused on the Internet, are, also expected to play a role in the mobile phone environment, as well, in order to consolidate or increase their overall brand presence.