Social networking is all the rage; everywhere you look someone is joining a social network or creating a new one. Every day, for instance, 100,000 people join Facebook. Type in “build your own social network” into Google and you find over 150,000 results.
But there’s a big problem with social networks; other than connecting similar minded people and joining existing friends in a technological way, they don’t do a lot. Sure, they let you send your contacts messages – but we already have phones, emails and instant messaging for that. True, social networking sites let you exchange ideas, join clubs and groups to share thoughts, pictures and so on – but there are already forums or offline meetings for that. Certainly. social networking sites provide you with new ways of doing things – but only with those people who have taken the time and trouble to join the site.
For businesses the social networking craze is actually proving a problem. Few people running independent businesses have made any money as a result of membership of a social networking site. Big businesses are actually losing money because of reduced productivity thanks to employees spending hours chatting on social networking sites.
So what do social networks actually do? Well, they help people feel good about themselves – the extra “connectivity” makes us feel more wanted, more loved and helps satisfy a basic human need. But do they help business? Not as much as the social networks would have us think.
A new study suggests that for business what’s wanted is sharing of content – and going to social networking sites to do that is heading off in the wrong direction. You are more likely to gain business if you share your content in your own network of sites that you build up.
Here’s what to do. Find web sites that would value your content. Contact the web masters or web site owners and offer them your content. Don’t wait for them to go to places like article directories – offer them material direct, be more proactive about this.
Once you have sites who share your content help them market that content. In other words, create your own, topic specific network of business owners all helping each other promote specific content. Internet users looking for content and information do not go to social networking sites first – they go to Google or directly to “traditional” web sites first. So if your business is to succeed online this is the space you need to inhabit.
Don’t get too distracted by social networking. Instead, use the value of networking to build your business by establishing your own informal network of similar businesses who can benefit by using your content, which in turn will benefit you. And guess what – that’s the way offline business has always succeeded if you think about it. And if you don’t know where to go to find similar businesses who can benefit from sharing your content, try Axandra’s IBP Arelis program.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+