There is a lot of hype out there about what we now commonly refer to online as “Social Networking.” Many wonder if it’s really “social” or if it’s even good “networking”. That leads many business people to real question: Is it important?
I suppose that really IS the question these days. Whether online social networking is important or not is mostly just opinion. I’d like to share my opinion about this. As we all realize, people believe what they believe. In my experience, the really savvy people will revisit their opinions based upon more knowledge about a particular topic. Okay, very anecdotally, and from mostly fellow business people and working adults, I’ll mention a little of what I hear people saying about two different social networking sites: Facebook and LinkedIn. I find that in the diverse variety of social networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn are based upon two very different models altogether – perhaps even at opposite ends of the spectrum.
First and foremost, let’s talk about Facebook. Most say to me that “Facebook is a waste of time – it’s a real time-sucker.” More say, “I was never friends with them all my life and now they want me to be their friend.” A few others say things like, “What do I care about every little daily detail of someone’s life who I hardly know anyway?” But is all that really true? It clearly is true for those who believe that it is. Yet, I can see some great value in the Facebook presence.
I’ve seen many people think in terms of starting a Facebook page with the belief that they are going to grow their business solely with that Facebook presence. I believe I can accurately say that it’s highly unlikely. I’m not saying that some don’t make it big using Facebook alone or that it can’t be done. I’m just saying that it’s as likely as the fact that some make it big by winning the lottery.
A new CharlesWorks client had only a Facebook presence prior to our getting them hooked up on the web with their own domain name and web space. After their space was in place, they had a Facebook link to point to their Facebook page put on it. Seems okay so far, right? Well, whenever someone clicked on the Facebook link and ended up on the Facebook page belonging to their business, the bottom right quadrant of their screen contained a list of others in their area who did exactly the same type of business they did. So all their local competitors were put out in front of potential customers.
With almost fifteen years in the website business, I am still amazed sometimes at what people do NOT notice when they think they are getting something for nothing. Needless to say, when that was pointed out, the link to their Facebook page was removed from their website almost immediately. They said, “We had never even noticed that.”
What had gotten forgotten or perhaps was never learned or simply overlooked was that Facebook is online to make money for Facebook. Every business exists to generate income so the business will stay alive and hopefully help keep the people running it employed. Nothing wrong with fact that Facebook and any other social networking platform in general does that – we just need to understand when it is helpful for our own cause – and when it is harmful.
The best value that having a Facebook page presents is simply as a link. Hopefully everyone reading this realizes that links to one’s website from other websites are valuable to have. Provided, of course, the links are from other reliable and respectable websites. When people search for things from their Facebook page, other Facebook pages are presented first. So having as much information on your Facebook page about your business is the best way to glean anything from that venue.
Always remember – as I have been told by many – if you are found on Facebook, the potential customer then looks to see where your “real” website – the kind that we or our business partners provide for you – is located!
Next, I’d like to talk about LinkedIn. It’s a very different animal than Facebook. LinkedIn is both personal and business. Most of us do something that contributes to society in general. It doesn’t matter whether we work for ourselves or work for someone else. CharlesWorks (or any company) couldn’t be where it is without whose working to keep it in existence.
What I like most about LinkedIn is that it is a place where livelihoods are shared. This can be beneficial in a number of ways. Each of us gets to be proud of where we work (or not if that’s the case). We get to let others know about our work experience and what positive things we are involved with. Positive growth is encouraged when we can get all of our accomplishments in one place where they can be perused. It’s a good exercise that helps us feel good about ourselves and others. With all the negativity in the world, I find LinkedIn a refreshing piece of the web.
As an example of how LinkedIn can encourage positive growth, I have seen a number of examples where companies and individuals were viewed on LinkedIn which resulted in work sent their way. I am also aware of individuals who have had a difficult time with employment who were able to gain employment through LinkedIn.
An interesting fact about LinkedIn relates to human nature. I do not hear about LinkedIn as much as Facebook. However, it’s the negative aspects of Facebook that are fairly common knowledge while the positive aspects of LinkedIn are hardly known. I suppose that’s why bad news sells and good news doesn’t.
Well, I’ll stop here before I put you to sleep (if I haven’t already). My hope is that you know that in addition to getting you on the web, another piece of what we can do here at CharlesWorks is help to integrate your social networking web spaces like LinkedIn, Facebook, and the numerous other in ways that can help you take advantage of them. If nothing else, please feel free to connect with either myself or Robin on LinkedIn using the links below:
In November 1977, Charles Oropallo authored and implemented a Bulletin Board System (BBS) called Access-80. Such systems were the forerunners to much of what is in use today. It operated on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I, Level II microcomputer. There were only a handful of such systems online for public use on the entire planet at that time. It provided personal messaging for local computer enthusiasts. It went online in East Greenbush, NY with a 300 baud modem and home brewed auto answering device. Relative speed and technological changes have been immense – today’s dialup at its fastest speed is 53,000 bits per second compared to 300 then!
Access-80 was also concurrently placed online in Schenectady, NY. Then, in 1982, Charles moved from the Albany, NY area to Nashua, NH, and so did Access-80. Charles’s original Nashua Access-80 setup is shown at http://Access-80.com. Before long Access-80 was concurrently online in Londonderry NH as well as Nashua. Access-80 remained online until 1987.
Charles founded CharlesWorks in June of 1998 in order to provide reliable and affordable hosting solutions. At that time he was only providing Internet connectivity for several personal and organizational websites at very low speed. Over time, Charles’s desire to provide reliable (as well as still being affordable) Internet solutions moved CharlesWorks into more commercially oriented markets. Charles still helps individuals get personal sites on the web.