Social Networking For Small Businesses

Many people are confused about the meaning of the phrase ‘social networking.’ One reason for this is that the term was used differently years ago.

Social networking used to require that people gather together in person, so that they could meet face-to-face and interact. Now, the term has a broader usage. Today’s social networking means simply to sort and group people into specific groups.

Thanks to the Internet, we can now network across vast distances that would previously have prevented this. We don’t have to be together in person to be in an interacting group. Social networking sites are extremely popular online, and are in the top five activities that Internet users engage in. People use Internet social networking sites for purposes as varied as finding a romantic partner to finding a job.

Online networking is popular with and beneficial for professionals regardless of field. Professionals tend to stick with more established sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for the purposes of social networking.

Networking via the Internet has been shown to have practical benefit for businesses. According to research, such networking can be very helpful with ordering materials, marketing goods and services, and hiring new employees.

LinkedIn is one of the most well-known sites geared to professionals who wish to network online. LinkedIn has been operating since 2003, and boasts more than 50 million users worldwide.

Facebook is another extremely popular networking site that is gaining popularity among older professionals. The number of American users over the age of 35 has doubled in recent months. Overall, Facebook has more than 150 active users, half of whom are on the site daily. Users can be found in more than 170 countries and territories, and post to Facebook in more than 35 languages.

The smallest of these three popular networking sites is Twitter. Twitter is used by 4.1 million users monthly, and is still growing. The typical Twitter user, compared with users of other networking sites, is more likely to be highly educated and technologically adept. Twitter also draws more women than do the other social networking sites.

Social Networking in the Workplace Should It Be Allowed

Social networking, Internet-based web sites such as Twitter and Facebook, is a relatively new phenomenon which has taken over the social lives of many in a similar manner to e-mail taking over the art of letter writing and communication. It has become the main method many people use to stay in touch with family, school friends and work colleagues both over long distances and during times when they cannot meet up in person. For some, fortunately relatively few in comparison to the numbers involved, it has become the only form of social intercourse they participate in and has replaced the television as the number one occupation for evenings spent at home alone. For others it is a distraction from the pressures of everyday life, a form of diary detailing their feelings and actions or, again in relatively small numbers, a means to create a different, better personality and present it to the outside world. Social networking sites are generally integral, offering a wide variety of activities the user can spend their time on, from the accepted status updates through the ability to comment, to exchange information, to write about events and, to a certain extent without any extra cost, to play online games either alone or in competition with others.

The most popular social networking sites tend to be used both my private individuals and by companies bringing their products and services to a wider audience though commercial Pages, sponsored messages and direct advertising. For private individuals the use of social networking sites is clearly a personal matter, and time is allocated to the various sites according to both need and desire. Commercially instigated networking, on the other hand, is a very professional activity requiring a solid base knowledge both of product or service, target audience and marketing strategies. The two forms of social networking – private and commercial – have very few overlapping entities.

The one thing which must immediately be accepted is that social networking, whether on one single site or across several, requires a good deal of dedication and time. For the private individual merely updating their status is not enough, there is the desire to communicate, the need to stay in touch with other people on a Friends List or in a Timeline, to see what they are doing and, often, to comment on their activities as well as sharing with yet more people. A private individual with a basic Timeline connection to one hundred people within roughly the same time zone can expect to receive new updates every few minutes, depending on how active their friends are. For some the feeling that they might miss something, a message or a relatively important status update results in constant checking of the social network to see what has changed, what is new and to add their own viewpoint, their own activities, events and experiences to the mass. The sight of people walking along the street or standing in shop doorways, riding the bus or waiting in traffic checking their smart phones is no longer something which excites interest, it is part and parcel of daily life. People who are not constantly checking through their chosen social networking site are out of the cycle, out of reach and out of touch.

Companies using the commercial facilities offered by various social networking sites tend to have a specialized team of experts who are dedicated to both publicity through such means and who have a certain background knowledge of the functioning of the Internet and IT. The creation and maintenance of a company web site, the constant updating of information, contact with customers through a Help Desk or the completion of contracts online is no longer the only activity possible on the Internet. A company which does not have a Facebook Page or which is not present on LinkedIn, Twitter or a wealth of other social networking sites is no longer considered present on the Internet. Social networking sites bring the company closer to the customer, allow for a greater level of interaction and an almost immediate means of getting a new product accepted in the marketplace. As with private individuals using social networking sites, a commercial use requires dedication as well as excellent background knowledge and a good deal of time. Most companies present on the Internet will have a team dedicated solely to this task, including individuals responsible just for Twitter or Facebook and constant interaction with those contacting them or, in the case of Twitter, Mentioning (the inclusion of an @ name in a Tweet) them.

The one thing both individuals and commercial enterprises suing social networking sites have in common is the amount of time involved in keeping up to date or in touch with a long list of family, friends and online acquaintances. The temptation to just quickly check and see what is happening is constantly in the back of everyone’s mind once they have built up a stable base of contacts, especially when some of these contacts live in other time zones, outside the normal two or three hours to either side of their own time zone. The working and leisure hours of people living in Australia or New Zealand are different to those of people living in the United States or Europe and anyone who wishes to experience live connections so far outside their own time zone needs to be available outside of normal leisure times, often during times when they would normally be working.

For anyone with an Internet connection in the workplace, the temptation to just quickly log on to a social networking site and check what’s happening ‘just in case’ is extremely strong. A quick check, however, can mean that something which should be done for the company, for their employer, during company hours, during the time when they are paid to concentrate on company matters has been relegated in importance, or shifted to a later time. Company time is being utilized to check on a purely private activity which, for many companies, is an abuse of privileges, a waste of company time and a straight loss of that person’s effectiveness for the company. A distracted employee does not work as effectively as a dedicated, concentrated employee. The use of company facilities, such as an Internet connection rather than a personal smart phone or similar, also rates as a loss for the company and, for many, an abuse of facilities, of trust.

The updating of status during company time is also, for most companies, dangerous in that information could be given out, working practices, the relationships between various colleagues and their employers or fellow workers and similar. The interaction between a worker and a seemingly reliable or trustworthy friend in a similar branch of business could lead to an inadvertent or planned breach of confidential information, especially when the employee is disgruntled or unhappy with their workplace, company policy or, quite simply, experiencing a bad day. That a person on the receiving end of information, innocent status updates or otherwise, may not be who they claim to be is a fact of modern life. Internet identities which do not match reality are a commonplace rather than an exception, especially when bearing in mind that Facebook, easily the largest social networking site in the world, has admitted that up to eighty million user accounts could be fakes; people or companies hiding behind an invented identity.

Faced with legal and contractual difficulties, plus a high number of employees with Internet access though company facilities or through their own private means, it is almost impossible for a medium to large sized company to keep tabs on each and every Internet-related activity. Various spy, logging or tracking software systems are available to keep a close eye on such activity, but these are all limited to after-the-fact reporting and are labor intensive. The easiest, but my no means foolproof, means of keeping social networking activity on company time to a minimum is to ban it outright or, when a more liberal company view is taken, allow trusted employees a limited online access window, with the provision that nothing concerning company business, policy or normal events taken from the working day are included in status updates, tweets or posts to any social networking site.

For each and every company with constant Internet connections for their employees there is a loss though online activity, both in productivity and efficiency. This loss, both in time and funds, is also present where employees use their own facilities to gain Internet access. It is difficult, however, for a company to regulate whether an employee be granted time to update their private social networking sites, or to check whether they are abusing trust and company facilities and updating on the sly. Regardless of which, as every single employee is present during work hours on the company time and is paid by them to fulfill a certain and specific function, the use of social networking sites during company time should not be acceptable. Social networking, for private individuals, is a personal matter which should be limited to their own time, to their leisure hours, and not taken at the cost of their employers.

Social Networking Should You Join Myspace

Do you use the internet on a regular basis? If you do, there is a good chance that you have heard of websites such as FriendFinder, MySpace, Orkut, Classmates, or Yahoo! 360.
What do all of these websites have in common? They are all social networking websites. Social networking websites, over the past few years, have rapidly increased in popularity but until you have used one it is likely that you are left wondering why.
If you have used a social networking website before, probably you are already fully aware of their popularity and the reasons why they have become so for popular. There is just something about these sites that draws in millions of internet users. With a wide choice of different social networking websites available there is also a wide variety of different reasons for their popularity. One those reasons being the ease with which people can make themselves known on the internet.

Social networking websites are, for the most part, easy to use. Most are easy to navigate. In fact, many require little knowledge of the internet. In addition to being easy to navigate, social networking websites also make it easier to meet new people online. There are millions of internet users who would love to be able to make new friends online; however, that can sometimes be difficult do. Without social networking websites, you would have to connect with internet users, often in chat rooms, and learn about their interests before deciding if you would like to consider them your “buddy.” Social networking sites allow you to learn information about another internet user before ever having to make contact with them, users choose who they associate with, not strangers interrupting one’s life.

Another one of the many reasons why social networking sites are popular is because many are free to use. In fact, the majority of social networking sites, such as MySpace and Yahoo! 360, are free to use. Despite being free to use, many websites require that you register with them. This registration will not only allow you to create your own profile or online webpage, but it will also allow you to contact other networking members and can provide a measure of security.
Although most social networking websites are free to use, there are some that are not. Classmates is one of those websites. Many of these subscription sites give you a free trial period or a free membership. That membership can be used to help you determine whether or not the website is worth paying for. What is nice about paid online social networking websites is that many can be considered exclusive. Since most internet users would not want to pay for something that they can get for free, most paid social networking sites are limited on the number of members they have. This may work out to your advantage because it tends to eliminate those who create fake and multiple accounts or aim to cause problems online.

Social networking websites are also popular because they come in a wide variety of different formats. Websites like Yahoo! 360 and MySpace focus on a wide variety of different topics. This means that just about anyone can join in. However, there are other social networking sites out there that are designed for smaller, special interest groups. The focus may be on a particular hobby, religion or political following. Most specialty social networking sites restrict the people that can join their network; thus, making your experience more enjoyable.
Finally, social networking websites focus on meeting new people, especially online, but over recent months, many have started including additional features only available to their online members. Many social networking members can now have their own free webpage, get free access to music videos, free blogs, and so on. Although social networking websites are popular enough to bring in members on their own, these additional features are, in a way, providing internet users with an incentive to join.

Mentioned above were a few of the most popular social networks that could be found online. Those networks included MySpace, Yahoo! 360, and Classmates. If you are looking for additional social networking websites, you should easily be able to find some by performing a standard internet search.

Why You Should Delete Your Social Networking Accounts

Everyone has at least one. A Facebook account. A Twitter feed. Maybe a lingering MySpace page. Probably in conjunction with these you are running a LinkedIn page for connecting to work contacts; posting location information through 4Square; or have a personalized iGoogle homepage. Let’s face it social networking has become the hottest way to keep in contact with your friends, co-workers, lost acquaintances, even family. Social networking has allowed individuals to maintain vast social networks that span across the globe. Individuals, groups, and organizations are utilizing social network sites to reach out to their communities. They have become the preferred means to spread interest in specific topics and advertise upcoming local events. Staying connected with the people that influence our lives has never been easier. But with all the advantages these sites offer, it comes with a profound price: our privacy.

We hand over most of our personal information to these sites: where we work, our telephone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, personal history, and much more. All of this information is accessible by not only the system administrators for these companies but also the people we accept as our friends; not to mention whatever information left unprotected that can be accessed by individuals or law enforcement surfing social network sites. Through our posts we provide information on our spending habits, where we are, our personal thoughts on popular culture, where we shop most, even the events of our mundane lives. We upload photos, create blogs, post comments, and comment on other people posts. Through all of this, we are creating mass information databases that can teach enterprising parties a lot about the kind of people we are. As we increasingly put more of our private lives into these vast social information databases growing concern is mounting about the amount of privacy a person has online and the possible profits that can be generated from data collected about you and your friends through social media posts.

Revenue is being invested and generated from information gleaned on social network sites. Companies like Gnip are making money as social media aggregators by designing tools that search user posts for information on specific products and events. This information they collect is then being sold to other organizations to use however they wish. Information can be collected on our political views, our distaste for one store over another, what products we bought, what products we are using, how we are using products, our taste in food, the music we like, the places where we live, etc. Companies can learn a lot about the people who are making posts about them (i.e. who that person is, where they live, where they work, who their friends are, a person’s age, even what that person looks like). Imagine if a government like China wanted to start aggregating some of this information.

The point is that the information people are posting in private to be shared with friends and acquaintances they have made on the internet is not in fact private. Even though the average Facebook surfer cannot access a private account without friending that person does not mean a company cannot obtain information about what you are posting when doing a mass search of “News Feed” comments. Now not all information a company collects from an individual’s posts seems malicious. So what if an internet service provider (ISP) does a search on twitter to see when people are doing most of their online gaming? When coupled with the rising issue of net neutrality

said ISP could be doing this so they can charge more for internet use at these peak gaming times or determine which areas of the world are doing the most online gaming and then raise internet service rates in these areas. This does not include all of the other information companies can gather to use in expanding their profit margins.

Bug companies aggregating comments for personal gain is not the only issue to be concerned with when posting personal information on the internet. Hackers have always been an issue on the internet. Social networks are huge information databases that can provide a hacker with a vast volume of content to use. Hackers break into these websites with ease and STEAL data on millions of people. They can use information taken from your account to learn where you shop online, stalk you, access your email, or obtain specifics about your friends. Each year dozens of Fortune 500 companies get hacked. Everything from account login information to personal data is stolen in these security breaches. Hackers have been know to use hacked social network accounts to steal personal data for setting up fake shopping accounts, spam user contacts, impersonate users, discover information about online shopping habits of users, and more. Hackers can use information stolen from your account to change login information to sites like Amazon or PayPal by studying your posts and reviewing your user comments.

These websites offer users a false sense of security promising that storing your personal private information is safe from malicious use. The problem is that hackers target these sites for the information they contain. But once your information has been leaked onto the internet, there is no telling where it ends up. Most hacker breaches, as with the recently exposed online payment services and the Gawker media hacks, show private secured networks are breached quite often and sometimes these breaches last for months as the hackers syphon off huge amounts of data about users. Even worse the long term affects of such hacks are hard to quantify and discover. But once the data is exposed on the internet there is no way of securing that information again.

Social media sites provide many beneficial conveniences to interact with the world and friends. But those benefits come with a cost. We expose ourselves and contacts to the chance of having personal information stolen. It can take years, even a lifetime, to counter the ill affects of a possible identity theft caused by a social network hack. The ONLY way to keep your information safe is to stop using these sites. To protect your identity and personal information delete all of your social network accounts and do not sign up for any new social network services. Not providing social networks your personal information is the only 100% safe means from having your personal information stolen.