Monday, September 13, 2010

Social Networking – An Old Fashioned Idea

You can’t read a newspaper (online or offline), watch the news or listen to the radio without hearing the words “social networking” - the buzz phrase of the day.

Yet this Internet marketing phenomenon has grown steadily since the early days when tech savvy people flocked to local bulletin boards or to Usenet groups to discuss common points of interest. In reality Social Networking pre-dates the Internet, the computer age, and electricity. Does the old expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know” ring any bells?

This expression is all about the power of your social network. I remember as a teenager how many kids at my local high school were landing unbelievable summer jobs when I struggled to find even a lousy one. When pressed them on how they found it, the typical answer was “Oh I’m working for a friend of my father’s...”.

This isn’t so different today with use of Internet based social networks. I’ve often seen posts from my social network telling me of people who’ve lost jobs and are looking for work, people plugging their business or skills, etc. So what is the key to an effective Internet based social network? Does it lie in the tool, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Friendfeed, and who knows how many more? The answer is simply no.

For Internet based social networks to be truly successful you need to treat your online social network as you would any social network, online or offline. Your social network is merely a collection of connections and pulling out a measuring stick of how many connections you have is a failed measurement. The key performance indicator is what you get out of maintaining this network. What are your goals (help spread the word, people to sell stuff to, people to pass your name one, etc.), objectives (i.e. increase lead generation by 15%) and how will you measure your success against these goals? Simply having 40,000 plus followers on Twitter, 2,000 plus connections on LinkedIn, etc. doesn’t guarantee you anything if they’re not interested in what you have to say or if they’ve filtered you out of their feed.

As with the old traditional social network, “it’s not what you know but who you know” are you connected to the right people to help you meet your objectives and most importantly as with traditional social networks, just having the connections isn’t good enough; it’s knowing how to approach your connections for help in meeting your objectives. Remember every kid’s parents knew people, but not every kids parents knew how ask for help in finding their kid a high quality summer job.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was bizarre to think that a couple or just simply three to five years ago is already called "old-fashioned" in today's digital and multimedia lingo but you proved a point in saying social networks need to be more revolutionized in terms of generating leads.