It’s hard to read anything about online marketing these days and not hear about “social marketing.” It takes the form of various other names, like “social networking” and “viral marketing.” As if that doesn’t sound ambiguous enough, there are so many sites that are used to do this, it can be mind-boggling. They have names like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Squidoo. There are many others, but these are the hottest ones at the moment.
All of them do things just a little differently, and they most certainly serve different purposes for different demographics. If your head is spinning, let’s break them down into bite-sized pieces.
This is my personal favorite, because it’s geared towards business professionals networking with one another. It builds on the “six degrees of separation” kind of thinking, in that as large as the world is, odds are good that you know someone who knows someone who….you get the idea. It’s a robust community with tons of expertise to be shared, and is a great way to find services you might need, or ask advice about an a business arena that may be unfamiliar to you. Another great feature is the ability to get recommended by people or recommend others, which provides a testimonial blurb that that will be displayed on your LinkedIn profile.
Squidoo is definitely different than the other sites I’ll cover shortly. Squidoo basically lets you build a one page “expert opinion” on something (called a “lens”) and others have the ability to comment. It allows you to link to external sources (so a lot of companies might build one to help get some external links back to their site) and position yourself as a resident expert. You can get rated via a star system, and it’s fun to spend some time on, as it highlights that old adage that “no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” (Seth Godin, a favorite author of mine, is behind this one.)
Facebook and MySpace
There are differences between these two sites, but they’re more alike than not for the purposes of this discussion. As a user, you get a page that you can pretty much do whatever you want with in order to express yourself. You can upload videos, design it, keep a blog, and all of those things, but it capitalizes heavily on the social networking aspect with the Friends list. On MySpace you invite people to connect with you, and on Facebook they call it “poking.” Unlike the idea of connecting to others such as you do with LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace are mainly used for socialization purposes. While companies have certainly created their own pages on these sites, the jury’s still out on how effective it really is for them to do so. Facebook is known to be targeting LinkedIn’s model and customers moving forward.
Hopefully this gives a good foundation for understanding the social networking buzz. If you’re afraid you’ve missed the boat on this phenomenon, you haven’t. The best advice is to pick one of these sites and spend some time on it. Learn how it works, build up a small following, and then maybe start on another one. You’ll be surprised at how many familiar faces you’ll see from site to site!
And don’t forget to poke me when you do!