Facebook and other social sites are redefining online interaction in the business world
Social networking is gaining steam daily. In fact media guru Steve Dotto says, “Social networking is changing the world! You had better get on the bandwagon or be relegated to the sidelines in business and in life.”
But first a note: This look at social media will be a two-parter. The first part will look at what social media is and some of the different forms it can take. In the second instalment I’ll show you how some printers are using social media tools to help market their businesses.
Loosely defined, social media is content that’s created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. It’s intended to facilitate communications between peers and audiences and it’s this engagement that has transformed the internet from an information and commerce space into a social force—hence the term social networking.
Today, there are many examples of social media software applications out there, but we’ll concentrate on the top four applications in terms of popularity; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
Facebook is a great place to start your social networking journey. It’s been around for a while, but continues to grow in popularity. You can use it to connect to old and new friends, send messages, join business and general-interest groups, play games, update your profile and tell everyone what you’re up to, as often as you like. You can also join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region. It’s got an uncanny knack of recommending people who it thinks should be your friends although I’m finding that feature just a bit scary in that maybe they know just a bit too much about me.
As you make friends on Facebook get familiar with the security settings on your profile. Once you understand who has permission to see your information you’ll be amazed to see who is on Facebook and the incredible things you can do with it. I tend to use Facebook to communicate with friends, but a word of caution—don’t share any photos except tame ones as this is still a somewhat public site.
LinkedIn is mainly a business-oriented networking site that leverages your business network. The purpose of the site is to let users maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. When you sign up with LinkedIn you fill in your profile and in effect you have your resume online. Once you get your profile up, you can ask to be connected to other people and these connections can be used in many ways. It’s like a real business network where you have your direct connections, the connections of people you know (LinkedIn calls these second-degree connections) and the connections of these second-degree connections (third-degree connections).
When you get really connected (i.e. LinkedIn) to other users on the site it’s almost like being at a big cocktail party. You can ask for an introduction to someone you want to know through a mutual contact, you can find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in the network, employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates, and job hunters can either apply or be recommended for positions.
YouTube has been around since 2005. It’s the leader in online video and the premier destination for watching and sharing original videos worldwide through the web. People upload and share video clips across the internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs and e-mail. They can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests and discover the quirky and unusual. As more people capture special moments on video, YouTube is empowering them to become the broadcasters of tomorrow. It’s a bit of a different approach to content but seems to work great as a companion piece to Facebook.
Twitter is the new kid on the block and is really a micro-blogging tool that allows you to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text messages of up to 140 characters that are delivered to your subscribers. (Subscribers are called followers.) In effect Twitter is the text messaging tool of the internet. It was created in 2006 and by March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009. It had a monthly growth of 1,382%.
Connect with printing groups on these social networking sites
- www.linkedin.com More than 400 groups related to printing exist. The Printing Industry Networking Group is one of the largest with more than 11,000 members; the Digital Printing Group has more than 5,000 members
- www.facebook.com A search for “printing” gets 8,000 results. Groups range from the general “printing,” to student groups to Transcontinental
- www.youtube.com A search for “printing” nets 76,000 hits