Monday, February 05, 2007

Social Networks - Part of Web 2.0

If you haven't heard of Social Networks, or Web 2.0, chances are you're still a part of it, or have heard of it before not knowing what it was. It's literally changing the way people communicate with friends, family, and business associates. In fact, for marketers, Web 2.0, and more particularly, social networks - open up entirely new opportunities. (For this article, we will not go into detail about the other facets of Web 2.0, for more on Web 2.0, click here.)

So what exactly is a social network you ask? It's your little black book online, but with more detail about your life, photos from your every day activities, and a list of your friends... friends... friends - so that you can see the connections that you are literally able to make through knowing a friend of a friend. Myspace, Facebook, and LinkedIn, are all examples of businesses who have set up social networks as their business model.

So how can a marketer take advantage of these great social opportunities presented before us? The obvious answer would be to create your own social networking website, which could prove difficult, seeing as though you would have to compete with the already established giants above. Although, there is still room I believe for niche networks, such as one just for skateboarders, take for example. You could create a social network for your preferred niche market. Or, think of an idea that establishes one of the above networks as the base for your product / service / or website. A great example of this is

For the non-entrepreneur, or entrepreneur who already has a business going with great products to be sold, leveraging the power of social networks to spread a message or idea can be entirely too easy. If you have a product that sticks, that makes people talk, what better way to spread the word than word of mouth? Social networks are all about online word of mouth. In fact - that's the point of a social network! People making connections and sharing (communicating) what really matters to them - their favorite music, videos, foods, business associates, friends, activities, cool new gadgets they just bought, etc.

To be fair, social networks have really existed for quite some time in a more simple form called the bulletin board. On bulletin board communities, users can post text, pictures, and sometimes videos to discuss a topic or idea. Chances are, you've been to a bulletin board about a favorite subject of yours, or to get help for that pesky gadget that messes up every once in a while. The difference between the bulletin board and the social networks of today is that today's networks are much more personal. We show the "person" behind the post and aren't just an online "user name" anymore.

Who knows what the future will bring, but there is one thing you can be sure of: that social networks will do nothing but progress, and that user driven content and information, not a corporate marketing giant's, will eventually rule the web with a more personal, social feel.