Thursday, December 22, 2011

Social Networking

Businesses should not be afraid of the changes that will accompany social networking; instead they should learn as much as they can about the various newtorking sites that are available, determine their business goals, and select social networks that can likely help them to reach their business goals. The Bright Side of Social Networking When a business owner creates a presence for his/her business on social networking websites, essentially they are able to take advantage of the 'multiplier effect,' in terms of exposure to new and existing audiences. Any good business owner will tell you that networking is an excellent way in which to gain new customers, as well as establish strategic partnerships with other business owners. However, to network physically, usually means joining an local professional organization, paying annual dues and in some cases paying an additional fee to attend networking events. Also, to attend such an event, the business owner will have to physically remove himself from the operation of his business to network- this is not always an option in the case of small and/or new businesses, which require a very 'hands-on' approach. By engaging in social networking, the business owner will have more flexibility as it relates to time, there will be little or no costs to participate, he/she will benefit from the 'multiplier effect,' and feedback from his/her audience will be instant. The Dark Side of Social Networking The 'dark side' of this form of 'New Media' is that in order to be effective, it requires a 'hands-on' approach as well, especially as it relates to updating statuses and responding to audiences in a time-sensitive manner. Also, some customers and other business owners still place great value on actual 'face-to-face,' interaction, or the old 'hand-shake' and may not view this social networking as a sincere form of interaction.
If this view is garnered, then the process of true relationship building can take a longer time to form. Another negative area of social networking, is that the 'multiplier effect' can also be applied in the form of bad ratings about a business from audiences. Sometimes, low ratings are valid, but research has shown that these ratings and general feedback may not always be accurate. In the article titled, 'Can You Trust Crowd Wisdom?' Kristina Grifantini quoted this statement from Vassilis Kostakos, an assistant professor at the University of Madeira in Portugal and an adjunct assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU),
"If you have two or three people voting 500 times," says Kostakos, the results may not be representative of the community overall. He suspects this may be why ratings often tend toward extremes."
What does the future hold? In terms of future evolution, social networking may be viewed in a more positive light in the future and be embraced by society at large. In the present, there are still a lot of questions that exist about this form of media and there's also distrust to some extent. Facebook has faced a great deal of criticism in the past regarding privacy issues. For example, it is possible for photos of users to be simply copied from the Facebook website and used for some other purpose without the knowledge of the user. Right now I believe that we're in the 'Hey, this is a great idea, but how do we use it securely and efficiently," stage. So in the future, I believe that the makers of social networks will work harder to make the social networking environment safer. By taking these steps, users and potential users will feel safer in this environment and look to social networking as a standard way to developing dynamic personal and professional relationships with other users. One thing seems definite however, and that is the growth of LinkedIn as a preferred tool in making business connections. In the world of social networking, the future seems bright for employers and job seekers who use LinkedIn. In recent years, several success stories have been reported, praising the functionality of LinkedIn. One such testimony came in the form of an article by Frank Langfitt titled, 'Social Networking Technology Boosts Job Recruiting,' in which he states:
"Such sites also help job hunters market themselves online by setting up profiles, listing work history and specific skills."

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