There has been an incredible amount of buzz regarding the possible impacts of social networking since Facebook’s impressive public debut in 2006. While the wildly successful site was hardly the first social network – think of everything from AOL’s searchable “Member Profiles” to Friendster and MySpace – it quickly established its dominance and became synonymous with the term we know today. However, that is not to say that innovation and creativity are no longer able to drive social media forward. Aside from Facebook’s internal updates, there has been plenty of competition or concurrent invention such as Twitter’s 140-char snapshots of life, LinkedIn’s capture of the professional network, and Google Plus’s powerful debut of Hangouts. Today, up and coming sites such as App.net and Diaspora suggest that the social network phenomenon will shift to open source or even community-run platforms.
With that said, it is equally important for business owners to understand the new challenges and benefits that come with ubiquitous websites. No one understands this better than the founders of social media startups themselves, who have created an entirely new breed of business model to drive revenue in what seems to be an increasingly saturated market. For example, differences between adopting the “freemium” model as opposed to the affiliate or virtual goods models can be the key to a sky-high conversion rate or a one-way ticket to abysmally low traffic. However, regardless of company type, almost all businesses can benefit from leveraging the power of social networks. Here are just a few important points to keep in mind when devising your own online strategy.
- Understand who is not on social media. If your business caters primarily to demographics that have yet to adopt Facebook or Twitter in high numbers, consider other avenues of engaging business. Realize that this does not mean ignoring the power of the Web. Almost every business should optimize their content and pursue some type of SEO (search engine optimization) strategy that will highlight their business for all users. Social media and online-based targeting are not always equivalent.
- Do not ignore the power of social news aggregators! While it seems like communities such as Digg and Stumbleupon have fallen off the radar, business owners should remain conscientious of the fact that these types of sites are not meant to experience the frenetic individualized activity of Facebook and Twitter. First, Reddit has essentially turned into a news source for millions of people. Second, creating awareness on these community-driven sites offers a much more powerful platform for informational dissemination than a Facebook post. Third, these sites all have methods of validation – diggs, upvotes, karma – that present the user with an established metric.
- Use Facebook and Twitter strategically. Frustrated users who are not necessarily being targeted often block “spammy” feeds. Putting effort into driving content leadership and providing services where people want them is the modern-day equivalent of statistically savvy salespeople.
In general, understanding your audience and thinking of the macro picture have always been important for companies. Social networks and the influx of new media venues have simply challenged us to bring those ideals into a more networked world.
The History of Social Networking: http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-social-networking/
Top 20 Social Networks: http://www.socialbakers.com/resource-center/808-article-the-20-most-interesting-social-networks
Social Media Statistics: http://strongblogs.com/nine-of-the-most-interesting-social-media-stats-for-2013/
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton