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What are Social networks?

The big buzzword these days is "social network" – but what is a social network?
How many of you are part of a social network? How many of you have no idea what a social network is?

Typically a social network is a service that allows you to keep track of your friends, family, and business relationship. Why would anyone want to join a social network? What’s the big attraction? The big reason social networks are so popular is that they allow people to keep track of their friends easily. The idea is that you can have one place to visit to keep up with everyone in your network

Social Networking has become very popular during the past few years, but it can still be very difficult to understand for someone new to social networking. The open-ended nature of social networks add to this. Once signed onto a social network, having answered a few basic profile questions, it is easy to sit back and wonder what you are supposed to do next.

The easiest way to understand social networking is to think of it like high school. You had friends in school, and you knew quite a few people even if you weren't friends with all of them, but it's likely that you didn't know everyone.

If you ever moved to a new school -- or if you can imagine moving to a new school -- you start out with no friends. After attending classes, you start meeting people, and as you meet them, you begin associating with those that have similar interests. Getting started with social networking is much the same as starting at a new school. At first, you don't have any friends. But as you join groups, you begin to meet people, and you build a friends list of those with similar interests.

why are they important to my business?

In the same manner that it is important for companies to make sure they have all the various domain names that relate to their brand (.com, .net. .org, etc.), it is now becoming important for companies to make sure they secure their brand on social media sites - at least the popular ones.

Typical with most social media sites, once you create a profile, you have a unique website address where you can access that profile. That address, if you set it up correctly, will include your brand name, (IE: www.linkedin.com/yourbrandname

The brand name is also used in the title tag of your profile. Why is this important? Having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites may help you to have better control over the first three pages of search results for your unique brand name. It also may help users of specific social media sites to find your company if they are actually looking for your brand.

 

Cisco Systems' Chairman, John Chambers, recently suggested that businesses that embrace collaborative communications models, such as social networking, into their processes could see a return of 3 to 5 percent annual improvements in worker productivity.

By allowing people both in and outside of companies to connect with each other, and share information over the network, the pace of business operations will escalate.

Facebook is a good example. Everyone's talking about the social networking tool, and if you're an employer, you're probably worried about your workers wasting office hours social networking when they should be productive.

Relax. Facebook can be an essential addition to your employees' Web working toolbox.

For starters, Facebook is all about community. As a social networking tool, it allows you to leave messages on users' "walls", join groups and participate in discussions. You can connect with old and new co-workers and clients without being intrusive. Add these people to Facebook and stay in touch without needing to actively maintain a conversation via e-mail or phone.

Use Facebook to virally tackle a business cause. Look for business opportunities out of shared interests. Ask questions, and take advantage of Facebook's collective intelligence with the My Questions application. Gain insight into business challenges and discover new resources through your network.

Of course, it's important to restrict the amount of time your employees spend on Facebook, and to ensure that they edit profile and security settings. Facebook can come back to haunt you, as Miss New Jersey Amy Polumbo learned recently when some private photos of her were made public.

But before brushing aside Facebook as a fad, remember: if you are in the ICT industry, it's important -- regardless of your age -- that you remain Web-literate and in touch with the latest Internet trends.

 

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