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The Value of Internet Social Networking in Business
Prior to the arrival of computers, individuals who aspired to have success in their businesses clearly understood that business is about people thus they saw the importance of social networks. For instance, in the Victorian era, there were rampant uses of calling cards for requesting a woman of high social status to visit. These calling cards were relatively elaborate and could be match up to the featured pages in MySpace or any other internet social networking sites. The calling cards were essentially a means of self expression. Nevertheless they served a greater purpose in the social settings of the Victorian period. Calling cards were often times posted on the walls close to the house entrance. This made it possible for visitors to know which lady was from the social network that the lord of the house belonged to. If at all the visitor believed that one of the house hostesses had acquaintances with the high status social network then he would ask for introduction. Even more interesting is fact that modern internet social networking site operates similarly as the callings card in the Victorian period. For example, Victorians received acceptance by adhering to the etiquette rules in the same way modern social networks adhere to certain rules. “Friend request” are similar to the Victorian calling cards since once online status determines whether you will be accepted in a certain click of friends.
The 21st Centaury has witnessed a more advanced and developed function of social networks other than the usual circle of friends’ socialization. Professionals are increasingly discovering the application of internet social networking as a way of enhancing their businesses. Internet social networks center on building online communities composed of individuals with similar interests. These networks provide bases whereby people can interact. A great number of these social networks are web based.” Internet Social networks can be dated back to online communities in the likes of, The WELL which initially started operating in 1985, Theglobe.com of 1994 and Tripod in 1995” (Castells, 2003). These sites provided a platform whereby people can interact and share ideas through personal homepages and chat rooms. In spite of, the new inventions some closed down simply because they were not profitable. Other upcoming internet social networking inventions saw to it that more control of connectivity and content is given to users. With time emerging trends of internet social networks have developed. Several internet social networks namely MySpace, Facebok and Twitter and others have emerged as the trendiest since they have a wide range of users.
Business Application of Internet Social Networks
Technology has inherently proven that internet social networks can be applied to advance businesses. Over the course of time different business enterprises have rampantly adapted the new trends of using internet social networks in order to advance their businesses. This is mainly because social networks provide a base of connecting populace at minimal costs. They essentially act as a base whereby companies can relate to their customers. Modern social networking applications focus on people since business is mainly about people. “Enterprises are increasingly using consumer based technology in social networks to share information relating to their business operations since consumer based applications provide an easier and faster way of dispensing information” (Castells, 2003).
Currently, large enterprises are employing these applications in order to standardize their technology practices. Business networking applications gather data and link its users to the pertinent contents. Business enterprises use the provided applications to expand their bases of clientele, associates and employees. Aspects that define business social networking include the available functionalities such as forum and blogs that enable businesses to interact with their clientele, the ability of the social networks to link with its users and the availability of the users.
Examples of Internet Social Networks Used In Businesses
Evidently, technological inventions are limitless as far internet social networks are concerned. There are a variety of social networks used in business that were before hand solely developed for social connections. More social sites are being developed while the previous sites are being modified so as to measure up with the needs and demands of users. Commonly used internet social networks in businesses include, Face book, Twitters, MySpace, Secondlife, World of warcraft, LinkedIn, Bebo, Orkut and Iphone among many others. These internet social networks have played great role in enhancing businesses since they provide the appropriate platforms for advertising, branding, marketing, training and conferencing among many other functions.
Application of Twitter in Businesses.
Twitter provides a blogging platform that enables enterprises to publish messages concerning their enterprises. Other than being a social utility it also enables the business management to connect with their clientele by giving certain business updates. Alternatively it enables clients to give feedbacks concerning certain goods or services. Twitter can also be used as a publicity tool for wide range of enterprises since it provides a base whereby business information can be published or accessed. Twitter has a unique marketing channel mainly due to its steady and active network, with help of this active network, businesses are able to easily connect their brands with potential and current clients. Furthermore they can receive feedbacks from their clients. The twitter marketing style is termed as a two-way audience involvement.
Twitter provides a sound platform for airing job advertisements. Companies can send messages with recommendations of particular vacant posts. Interested end users can in turn respond to the advertisement either by applying for these posts online or by contacting the alleged company thus creating a job recruitment base. In a business setting Twitter can be applied to connect employees. “Twitter enables employees to easily network with each other especially when handling group projects, particularly in a case whereby other employees are in the field or working in a different business branch” (Brogan, 2007).
This internet social network has live coverage features that can enable businesses to carryout detailed coverage of conferences, workshops, businesses events and real-time commentaries. “It also has features that can be used to give updates of business meetings or events amongst business associates and interested parties. Other functional features in Twitter include features of managing and analyzing time within a business setting” (Brogan, 2007).
Application of LinkedIn in Businesses.
LinkedIn is a business centered social networking base widely for professional networking. It enables its registered users to have contact details of their trusted business associates otherwise referred to as “connections”. LinkedIn provides a base whereby hiring business managers can find suitable employees. Alternatively job seekers through their existing connections can solicit for employment. It also provides a base for businesses to identify business opportunities by sharing ideas with their business connections. Features in this social network provide a platform for creating solid business relations (Brook, 2008).
By using this social networking method, new businesses are given an appropriate base for marketing their brands, services and products through the present business connections. Different enterprises are able to connect and give ideas concerning their business activities.
Application of MySpace in Businesses
The MySpace internet social network provides a base where businesses can showcase an overview of their services and products. Businesses can list and explain their services and products to target audience. MySpace has features in which enterprises are enabled to design the brands that best suite the image of their businesses. It allows one to specify their corporate colors which in turn promote brand awareness.
This internet social network has unique video features that can be utilized to increase business profitability. Businesses can form and upload commercials related to the types of services and products that they offer. These commercial video footages are then availed to end users. Business can upload footages that aim at influencing end users to try out their products or services. For instance, they can upload video footages that have interviews of their employees or satisfied clientele.
MySpace blogs enable enterprises to create their own blog which can be simply accessed from their MySpace pages. These blogs provide appropriate bases for businesses to advertise since they list the labels of the current blogs posted by businesses. By the help of these blog features businesses can give regular updates on the promotions, new products, upcoming business events and services among many others.
Application of SecondLife in Businesses
The SecondLife network provides a base for enterprises to freely interact with their clients using a feature referred to as avatars. Companies can, advertise, post briefings of their services and merchandise. This network gives an invaluable advantage to businesses that incorporate virtual programs such as architectural design businesses and entertainment industries. It has a tri-dimensional program that enables its users to create virtual objects.
Unlike other social networks Secondlife has an in-house currency referred to as the Linden dollar that can be used by a wide range of businesses to procure and sell virtual products such as jewelry, vehicles, clothes and objects of all kinds. This feature enhances trade amongst different businesses. The Linden dollars are bought by the normal dollar currency. This feature in second life has enabled companies to make profit and then convert the Linden dollars to normal currency.
Real estates business, through the premium land membership program in Second life can easily carry out their normal transactions of buying, selling or renting properties. Businesses which have registered and have access to premium accounts can participate in these ventures. So as to participate and be registered as members enterprises are charged a small monthly after their emancipation they gain status in the SecondLife Network and are now referred to as residents. Residents in SecondLife can carryout transactions of buying, selling or renting property thus making profits without the involvement of brokers.
Application of Facebook in Businesses
Facebook is one of the widely used social networks not only for social connections but also in the business context. Using appropriate combination of apps available in Facebook features businesses can be monitored from the Facebook profiles. With the slideshare features in Facebook enterprises are enabled to upload power points presentations, PDF files or OpenOffice so as share information with other end users. This is an elaborate method of spreading information to business associates, employees and clients once at the touch of a button.
The free conference facets in Facebook allow businesses to organize meetings, by using conference calls. Individuals can set up meetings dates from the confines of their residence, offices or anywhere. Skype and VoIP services in Facebok enable one to make free and quick connections to the needed people thus prompting the upcoming meetings. “Facebook also has up to standard video base that allow companies to upload their video clip with contents aimed at marketing their products. Clients and potential customers are briefed each time new video clips are uploaded this helps them to keep track with the transitional business dealings” (Jantsch, 2008).
Depending on the size of a particular business Facebook provides an elaborate platform for a number of advertisements. Companies can formulate their advertisements and choose the locations to air their advertisements. Other than advertisements facebook provides a good base for companies to endorse their brands using features such as myblogs. Compared to the traditional methods of advertisement, advertising through facebook can cover a wide area base at minimal costs. Another way that businesses can advertise their trademarks using facebook is by posting their business cards in their homepages, each time end users visit the alleged homepage they are more acquainted with the services or products offered by that business.
Companies can take advantage of features in face book to attract potential customers. Search feature in face book can allow businesses to find out the websites regularly visited by their potential customer and then use this information to create links between their pages of advertisements and the sites regularly visited by these clients. “Interested end users in turn respond to the showcased advertisement pages. Other than tracing potential clients search options in facebook can be used by businesses to send updates or keep track of their regular clients” (Jantsch, 2008).
Facebook provides a platform whereby companies can form stronger relationships with their audiences and clients. This is courtesy of the two way interactive features present in facebook applications. Clients can give feedbacks regarding their approval or dissatisfaction in the purchased products or rendered services. This in turn helps the alleged companies to attend to the grievances of the customers, clarify issues, change or better their services. In a business setting facebook features can be used to enhance team work especially in a case whereby the alleged business has branches in different locations. Employees can share ideas and keep each other posted on the tasks at hand simply by posting information on the facebook walls.
Business Value of Internet Social Networking
Social networking has proven to be a current method of growing and promoting profitability in both big and medium sized enterprises. A number of people use social networking sites such as LinkedIn to advance their careers which is quite vital during the inflexible economic times. Several business corporations’ use these social networking sites as marketing basis and public relations communications. With the rampant use of online facilities these social networks have proven to be more effective in marketing compared to the traditional radio and television mediums of marketing.
These networking sites have been not only used to create company brands but also to cultivate productivity. A wide range of businesses are finding it more easy and affordable to create their brands in these social networking sites rather than other traditional bases. Hiring processes in business has become easier, cost effective and less time consuming due to the available options in internet social networks. Prior to the formation of social networks businesses incurred a lot of expenses in the recruitment processes of its staff. Scores of time ware as well used up during the course of interviewing and short listing. However with the current trends of social networks business administrators can carryout out staff recruitments easily at minimal costs. This is mainly as a result of the fact that social networks reach a wide range of people in little time and are generally cheap as far as advertising is concerned.
The goal of many businesses is centered on building customer loyalty this can be achieved through strengthening the relationship between the clients and the business. Internet social networks have enabled businesses to build solid relationship with its clients thus ensuring customer loyalty which in turn promotes the profitability of the business. By using internet social networks such as Twitters, MySpace and Face book which have a two way audience, businesses have been enabled to interact with their clientele. They are more capable of establishing whether the client requests have been realized. Internet social networks have increased the marketing power of businesses by enhancing viral marketing and communications between customers. For instance social networks such as twitter and facebook allow its end users to create “product craze groups” that mainly centre on airing feedbacks about a particular product. These peer-to-peer customer groups lower the costs of customer support groups.
Social networks have contributed to teamwork in the business workforce. They have enabled employees to team up and share ideas even when they are in different localities. This has yielded heightened innovations, as presently witnessed, more businesses are coming up with outstanding inventions that have made life easier. “These networks have as well contributed to the making of better decisions in companies this is as a result of the cross functional inputs and consultations. Social networks have as well increased communications between companies and their employees thus promoting solid work relationships” (Happe, 2007).
Furthermore social networks have played a great role in coordinating easy communications between businesses partners, consultants and developers this has in turn enabled some companies to realize a speedy cross-company achievements. Sales of some companies have increased due to the real-time market collaboration and capacities found in internet social networks.” These networks have also enabled the creation of interdependent links of business partners resulting to an increase in the profit net of business that participate in these links through the help of internet social networks” (Happe, 2007).
Evidently, internet social networks have proven to be invaluable to Businesses. Initially the application of social networks in businesses was relatively minimal. However a wide range of business enterprises have discovered the immeasurable benefits of being linked to these networks this explains the popularity and rapid increase of users that these networks currently experience. Nevertheless with the dynamic and ever changing market internet social networks are being modified in order to meet the standards of its users and generate market growth in the coming decades.
Shortcomings of Internet Social Networks in businesses.
Internet social networks are generally advantageous in business settings however there are some risks involved that should be careful weighed by businesses enterprises before making links. Companies use various social networks tools to discuss business agendas however these tools are not available to companies because they are more customer oriented and have been taken up independently by small fractions of people within the business settings.” Since business cooperates cannot regulate their uses certain risks could be involved. For instance clients may be thwarted if their expectations are not met “(Happe, 2007).
The on going increase of internet social networks in businesses may cause a sudden urge for businesses to adopt their functionality. This will give the IT departments challenging tasks of incorporating social networking applications and setting them up in the entire enterprise so as to meet the needs of partners, employees and clients. IT departments will face an even tougher task of managing the operations of these social networks.
Most businesses face the risk of using a lot of resources to employ these technologies and then later discover that they are not profitable to their model of business. Notwithstanding, the fact that applications in social networks allow, users to share information, the policies of a given organization will determine the manner in which certain information are shared. Furthermore many companies fear losing control of the information shared thus they hold back from using social networks. Enterprises that dread contents that are customer generated may keep away from social networking links inhibiting inter-independent cooperation’s in social networks.
The business world, believes in the concept of “business is all about the people”. Internet social networks provide an elaborate platform for businesses to make connections and enhance their net profits. The application of the various internet social networks in businesses is invaluable since it enables businesses to easily market, advertise, promote brands and carryout trainings among many other things. Companies are increasingly adapting the applications provided in these networks in order to enhance their businesses. In as much as these networks are beneficial to businesses certain risks are involved however they do not outweigh the value of internet social networking in businesses.
Brogan, C. (2007). 50 Ideas of Using Twitter for Business. Retrieved on 19 July 2009
Brook, R. (2008). LinkedIn for Small Businesses and Enterprises. Retrieved on 19 July 2009
Castells, M. (2003). The Internet Galaxy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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