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  Social Networking Resources > Getting Started Guide > Lesson # 1 Understanding the Basics of Social Networking

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Understanding the Basics of Social Networking

Social networking began almost 15 years ago with Classmates.com and has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Today there are more than 200 mainstream social networking sites with millions of users.

Understanding the Popularity of Social Networking

In addition to the ability to connect with friends and family around the world, social networking sites enable people to make new friends and business associates. In fact, social networking has become a very important marketing component for many online businesses ranging in size from fortune 500 companies to small single proprietorships – everyone profits from building a community and connecting with people.

While usage is growing in all demographics, NetPop Research studies social networking users and found the most common participants are between the ages of 18-29 with the next most popular age group being folks between the ages of 30 and 39.  They found on average, users spend between 4 and 6 hours online during the weekday and 4 and 5 hours a day on the weekend engaging in social networking sites.  With so many users, Social Networking can be a tremendous business building opportunity.

Business Building Social Networking Benefits

On a very basic level, social networking enables you to broaden your scope of knowledge.  With so many people online and sharing information you can gather information and learn about new business building concepts, tools and resources faster than ever before – there’s a very real educational benefit to business owners. 

On top of that, social networking enables you to:

  • Learn more about your target audience.  Where else can you connect with your prospects on a very personal basis, ask them questions and essentially eavesdrop on their communications with others?

  • In addition, social networking gives you a unique opportunity to express yourself as a brand.  In addition to being able to learn more about your target audience, you can build a profile and communicate in a manner which builds your personal brand.  Zappos, CNN, and even Martha Stewart have Twitter profiles and thousands of followers and The Humane Society and Coca Cola have Facebook pages.

  • You can encourage participation.  Web 2.0 was all about engaging prospects and encouraging interaction and it led to today’s most basic business building necessity which is to build a community around your brand.  This means engaging your audience and letting them get involved – social networking enables you to ask questions and motivate involvement. 

Of course nothing is perfect and there are some very real drawbacks to social networking. Fortunately, they can be managed.

The Downside to Social Networking

In order to make social networking effective, it’s important for you to spend time networking each and every day.  So that’s one more demand on your time.  Because social networking doesn’t often result in direct profits, it may be a task to consider outsourcing.  At the very minimum your social networking efforts can be scheduled and limited to 30 minutes a day. 

In the next lessons we’ll cover…

  • How To Choose The Right Sites To Participate In

  • How To Use Facebook

  • How To Use Twitter

  • Widgets, Plug-Ins, And Social Networking Tools To Integrate And Make Life Easier

  • Social Networking Etiquette

  • Integrating Social Networking into Your Marketing Plan

Social Networking is fun and a great way to learn and connect with people from all around the world.  Let’s move forward and talk about how to choose the right sites for your business.

 === > Lesson #2  How To Choose The Right Social Networking Sites


 

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