What is Social Networking?
Typically a social network is a service that allows you to keep track of your friends, family, and business relationship. Social networking, also referred to as social media, encompasses many Internet-based tools that make it easier for people to listen, interact, engage and collaborate with each other. Social networking websites function like an online community of Internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share a common interest such as hobbies, religion, or politics. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members, posting blogs and media, commenting on content posted and possibly even contacting available members, breaking geographical or economic barrier.
Why Social Networking?
There are numerous reasons why Social Networking is grabbing attention. Despite connecting you to friend and relatives, it has other valuable features in store to use.
- Viral Nature of the Social Networking helps move up networking site in size quickly. People registered under those networks wants to expand their network or connections, hence, they invite friends. Those friends, in turn, invite their friends. That doubles up the growth of the network.
- Social Networks provides a personal space on which one can maintain his/her “Identity”. Some people enhance those profiles in ways that make them indistinct from personal sites. It’s hard and costliest affair to maintain a personal web site on Internet. So, social networking sites take the advantage and allow people to create and maintain their personal page and profile without any cost which give them an online Identity.
- Social Network is a great way to enhance knowledge, if it is used in a proper manner. These sites allow forums, group to discussion specific topics related to their work and personal interest. Social network can allow for people to fill an information gap if members of their extended social network have deep subject matter expertise in a certain area.
- It also suffices the basic need of human being to share. People love to share their expertise and experiences.
- People love to put information, comment and opinion, share happiness and grievance and Social networks take it all.
- Personality of each individual is different, one might have desire for different personality traits and virtual social networking gives him an opportunity to be a person he admires to be.
- Last but not least people enjoy knowing what others are doing and social networking sites best satisfy this particular need.
Business Opportunities with Social Networking:
Everyone who chooses to be a part of Social Network is making a decision to create a “Personal Brand” for themselves. The word “Brand”, here, means the persona one chooses to represent him/her online on any given network. These are the things that people remember when they think of you, and could be things such as your interests, who you are associated with, the topics you blog about, and your professional connections. These are all things we can easily define and input into these social networks. The more you engage and participate in social networking, the more opportunities there are to start conversations which may have a professional impact on our lives. It is apparent that to do online business, a solid reputation is a necessity. So, it is not about the most friends- it’s about building relationships and becoming better known within a niche. The purpose of social networking is to start and participate in online conversations, thus building personal brand and online reputation. Once, you achieved this, it is about how strategically you convert and capitalize it to utmost benefit of your businesses.
Social Networking site extend low cost marketing opportunities. It has been seen that small businesses purchased newspaper or magazine ads, and used billboards, radio ads, TV ads or direct mail campaigns to keep their name in front of customers and potential customers. But today, these methods have not only become very expensive, they also lack the flexibility necessary to target audiences with a message meant exclusively for them.
The immense popularity of sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn gives small businesses a ray of hope to minimize the advertising cost and maximize the profit at the same time. They find another marketing strategy that not only saves them money, but is also very effective in getting the attention of customers and the search engines alike – and that strategy is social networking.
So, Let us understand and analyze the benefits of Social Networking:
Credibility and Trust: If you connecting with prospects on a personal level, it builds trust and credibility. A general rule of thumb is to offer your services, expertise or help before you ask for it. It is acceptable to promote your services when asked. If you’re not careful, your attempts could be considered spam. Instead, wait for the opportunities to present themselves instead of forcing a situation.
Lower Costs: It is significantly cheaper to employ online social networking strategies than to pay for advertising. When you participate in Social Network, you can pre-screen potential customers. You learn what your prospects like and what they don’t. That personal relationship you gain when you connect with your potential customer is more valuable than what you would get had you advertised.
Increase Visits to Your Web Site: The more exposure your business has on social networking sites, the more customers and potential customers have an opportunity to click on links to your web site. If you can also provide good quality content, useful information, and other helpful resources in your profiles, you can often create enough interest (or maybe curiosity) to get users to visit your web site – users who would not have otherwise had any exposure to your business. Just make sure that you create specific landing pages on your web site that are relevant to your social networking visitors, rather than just sending them to your home page.
Rank Higher in the Search Engines: By providing multiple sources of quality, indexable content on various social networking sites on the web, your online visibility is expanded, giving the search engines more content to discover. Search engines routinely index not just web pages, but also blogs, images and photos, video, wiki entries, podcasts, and social networking profiles. When you provide great content in a variety of forms and in a variety of places, you improve your chances of getting noticed (and ranked higher) by the search engines.
Develop Customer Interaction: In today’s world customer is God. Trust and loyalty can only be built if company starts providing post sale support. Today’s customers really do expect some level of online interaction with your company. Customers love to use your company’s blog, follows your Tweets, write product reviews on sites like Amazon.com, or posts questions and information on sites like LinkedIn. The more you can provide customers with a way to interact with your business, the more supported they feel, and the more positive their experience and attitude becomes.
Of all the marketing strategies available to small businesses today, social networking seems to provide some impressive benefits for little or no cost, which may be the greatest benefit of all.
Facebook-connect for Social Networking:
The advent of Facebook-Connect, a technology that enables people to sign into multiple websites with their Facebook user name and password, has helped companies all over the Internet attract exponentially more people to their sites. Some of these early adopters of Facebook Connect say they’ve seen huge increases in traffic to their sites. They’ve also seen substantial spikes in registration. The reason is very simple because people are generally less interested to fill out the same types of forms over and over again on different websites, while memorizing several user names and passwords for each service.
What is FB-Connect to Social Networking?
Facebook has extended a connect API for other site to get authenticated users and enable the site users to share content and action taken on social networking sites with their friends on Facebook. The idea is to spread and expand Social Networks to targeted people by engaging them to social network without creating an extra profile or account. FB-Connect help in effectively promoting site, its content and it’s featured on a platform which has target audience.
What does it facilitate?
With the Facebook Connect Social Networking can gain access to:
- A user’s name, photos, feeds and more.
- Data about a user’s friends.
- All of the integration points within Facebook, like publishing and streaming stories and notifications.
People would be able to log in with their Facebook account without creating an extra profile. Since, Social Network as use some common profile attributes, like Name, Date of Birth etc. So, there are many profile attributes which can be mapped to client side and shown on User’s profile section. But if there is email address requirement client need to ask for it during user’s first attempt to login via Facebook.
FB-Connect to generate News feeds on Facebook:
A user logged in to a given Social network using FB-Connect login credentials, can publish all the actions he/she is doing here on the site as News Feeds on Facebook. These are displayed on the news feeds section of his/her friends on Facebook. Study reveals that people who log into the third-party sites using Facebook Connect spend more time on the site and contribute more content than regular users. So, what are the content which can be purposefully used on Facebook, let’s have a look:
- Share your Story: People want to share their story, success, service and product with community on Social Networking site and get commented. So, this takes the form of Blog. Blog your article and thoughts, learning and gets it published as their Status Updates on Facebook. The probability of getting it reviewed and commented by your friends and Facebook users is quite high. This is an effective way to promote and communicate your ideas and connect to the vast range of audience with least efforts. Critics, writers, domain experts can take full advantage of it and broaden their scope of businesses.
- Share your Activities: Promoting users activities on Facebook and earn good revenue. Facebook has drawn huge number of users from different age group, interest. Every social networking site has various activities to be performed by its users which are interactive, interesting and full of fun. Depending on the type of activity user publish on Facebook; there is a high chance of getting people around it and having discussion on it. Suppose an event can be published by user on his wall which can be further shared by his friends over Facebook. This way the event could be virally popular with a strong chance of getting “RSVPed”. Outcome is the awareness and huge revenue gain.
- Share your Digital Media: Social Network allows you to use profile picture and load image and video to albums. People come to recognize you on these sites based on your picture. Apart from sharing the picture and video taken, you can do a lot with this capability. Photographers, Fashion Designers can create portfolios and showcase their creativity to the world using this medium. It’s quite hard and costliest process to create and maintain a personal web site for these businesses. For example, by publishing images of designer clothes and quoting prices against it, one can start marketing campaign here on Facebook and draw increased users’ visit to your sites. As far as Video is concerned, teaching institution, small budget film/documentary maker, ad agency can attract people from Facebook crowd. More the content gets reviewed and commented, more the acceptance and popularity you gain. It further, boosts your businesses.
- Engage and Participate: All Social Networking sites provide commenting and group forum feature. To gain online popularity, one needs to start providing expert comments and participate in online discussion. Share your experiences, views, opinion for the benefits of other users. This way you can form an online identity among users and earn respects. Share those valuable comments with Facebook for wide distribution. Help other people to resolved their issues, problems and increase your prospect of getting good business and jobs indirectly. By exposing yourself to them through social networks, you increase your opportunities exponentially. Through the use of the status update, you can demonstrate your expertise to your own network and to anyone who peruses your profile. Use the status update to showcase your knowledge by sharing thoughts about the industry, for example.
Building Facebook Applications using the facebook platform.
Facebook has a simple and robust API which allows users to build applications on the Facebook platform. Facebook application can be an important tool for your company or website. The degree of benefits varies from website to website. If there is a real opportunity for website on Facebook, one can consider the development of an innovative application. Offering a Facebook application can help to increase the visibility of website. The rule of thumb for pre-existing web based community sites is that you should extend 20% of the most used functionality of your site, onto facebook. However many sites choose to have facebook applications which are so much more powerful than the parent site, because of the power the API gives you to increase the virility of the application.
Promoting via Facebook Profile Page
Facebook provides a place to represent own businesses, and that is known as Facebook Pages. Facebook pages helps in circulating information about business as page gets indexed and is searchable inside and outside of Facebook. Facebook Page is a unique experience to make users more deeply connected with business or brand. Users can express their support by adding themselves as a fan, writing on your Wall, upload photos, and join other fans in discussion groups. Creating a Facebook Page is easy, free, and great for all types of businesses. Activities on Facebook Page helps in increasing business’s Viral Visibility.
Here are few quick and easy ways to engage users with Facebook Page:
Status Updates: Posting updates what is going on in business and update related to business to engage users. A Business website can be even link to updates. For instance, NDTV is doing same for their Business by posting latest news links from their website as updates on Facebook Page.
Photos/Videos: Facebook Pages allows uploading photos, videos on its wall and the content is virally circulated to all the fans of the page. For instance PVR Cinemas is very beautifully using this functionality through which they update their fans about new releasing, movie trailers, advance booking etc.
Events: Host any sort of event like new product launch, product demonstrations, press conferences, meetings and so on and use Facebook for its promotion by inviting people. For instance Techgig a product of Times Business Solution Limited hosting an event called Webinar: Data Integration Platform vs. ETL.
Groups: Create a community group related to business targeting people who use products. For instance a group that helps to discuss out trending news can be used for content driven site in managing activities around.
Fan Box: Fan Box is a social widget of Facebook Page’s Fan. It helps to attract and gain Facebook fans from business website. The Fan Box lets users to see how many users are already fans, and see some of their friends who are, read recent posts from the Page and become a fan.
Live Stream Box: Live Stream Box is also a social widget that lets users visiting business website to share activity and comments in real time. Live Stream Box works best while running a real-time event, like live streaming video for concerts, speeches, or webcasts, live Web chats, webinars, mass-multiplayer games, and more. Live Stream Box lets users log in to site using their Facebook accounts with Facebook Connect, communicate and share with each other and their friends in, view what their friends are saying, comment on and “like” their friends’ posts and share their updates directly on their Facebook profile and in their friends home page Streams. Each story on Facebook includes a link back to your site (through a URL you specify).
Conclusion: Implementing FB-Connect the social network fatigue’s inducing process of registering for site, creating a profile and connecting with friends can be completely bypassed with one click. Upon logging in, the Facebook-powered profile can inform a much more relevant, targeted experience. The other less popular and small site can attract high traffic to their site where as big sites can make present user experience more social. Increase in exposure of site will lead to increase in business growth. FB-connect provide extra stars on the social aspect of any site whether big or small and simple or e-commerce based.