What is Social Networking? Before the Internet we would probably have said that we were talking about a group of family and friends getting together or keeping in touch. However, the Internet has changed how we think of “getting together” and “keeping in touch.” Today “getting together” can mean meeting in a chat room as easily as it can mean meeting at Starbucks. Keeping in touch is done online as much or more as talking on the phone, unless you include texting over the phone which has replaced talking.
When we talk about “social networking” we most often are talking about online socializing. O.K., so what is socializing online? It is millions of people across every social, economic and geographic barrier sharing information and experiences with each other. Facebook alone has over 500 million registered users. Social networking Websites have become sophisticated communities that provide their users with information, friendship, advice, entertainment and the list goes on and on.
When we discuss online social networking and ask “what is social networking?” We have ask “what is social networking” globally. And the answer is that it is very exciting; we can become online friends with people we will probably never meet off line. It is also the place to be for local and international commerce. Online services like Amazon and Craigslist have changed the way we buy, sell, exchange, hire and volunteer. While we may not consider ecommerce sites social networking venues we do expect to see comments from others on these sites. Let’s face it, shopping has evolved to a social experience and the mall is now online.
My point is that while online networking encompasses everything, general sites like Facebook, business sites like LinkedIn, educational sites like this one, TV series addict sites like Miso, Cyclists sites like Pedal room, blood donor sites like i-Blood, you name it, it’s there. Most people consider social networking sites a place to socialize.
However, entrepreneurs follow the buyers and the buyers are online. More people over 50 are joining online networks than any other segment of the population. The over 50 generations, due to their sheer volume significantly influence every market they touch. Online entrepreneurs have taken notice and are making the online social networking experience acceptable to the senior population. Why do the online marketers care so much about the over 50 set?
Aside from the fact that they control the majority of the purse strings, they tend to be loyal to a brand or service. Online that transfers to a more stable market, that is, these generation don’t surf the net as much as others. Therefore marketers can make their advertising more effective. Why do I bring all this commerce activity up when the question is what is social networking? Because social networking exists because advertisers are willing to pay big bucks to reach online buyers. So be nice to the advertiser and older newbies because they are a big reason that we can enjoy the social networking experience.
And it will only get bigger because online buyers have found that online commerce is safe and convenient. Obviously, just as you have to be careful about individuals online you have to be careful with companies. However, companies providing goods and services online have found that their customers have a huge audience available to them online and, if they are not treated fairly, they let everyone know about it through their social networks. Actually, it’s a great system that works very well.
As you can see, it’s difficult to say what social networking is because it is evolving so quickly. Rather than try to define what social networking is, consider what you can do with social networks before you jump in. These networks are complex because people are complex and social networks are networks of people not computers. As you look to become involved in a social networking community keep these thoughts in mind:
Always remember why you are there. Whatever the reason stay consistent to that purpose.
Use your time wisely and do not waste other people’s time or you may find yourself on the outside looking in.
Keep your communication informative, short and simple.
Be positive. A “thank you” for help or information provided will go a long way to establishing you as someone who belongs.
Slow Down; establishing relationships takes time. Get to know people, let people get to know you. Work on building a relationship with them.
A social network is a group of like minded people sharing. You can be doing business together, sharing community experiences, family experiences, whatever. Remember we are all people, we want to contribute, be helpful, learn, grow and feel we have value. That’s what social networking is or soon will be. SMM Panel