The term ‘Social Networking’ has become a ‘buzz’ word frequently used in conversations between members of all generations. For those of you not familiar with the term, Awamedia’s jargon buster describes it as the way that users build online networks of contacts and interact with these personal or business friends in a secure environment. It is not a new concept – the earliest manifestations date back to The WELL (1985), Theglobe.com (1994) and Geocities (1994) – and has undergone many changes and improvements since its creation. Since March 2005 businesses have also begun to incorporate it into their marketing sphere as a component of business internet strategy.
I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that more and more social networking requests are landing on my desk and it made me investigate the advantages it holds for modern businesses. According to Jody Nimetz, author of Marketing Jive  there are 5 major reasons why businesses might use social media:
- to create brand awareness,
- as an online reputation management tool,
- for recruiting,
- to learn about new technologies and competitors,
- and as a lead gen tool to intercept potential prospects.
By engaging customers in discussions and interaction companies will be able to drive more traffic to their own online sites which will ultimately result in more online conversions. It all makes sense really! And if you look at the membership figures  of some of these social networking sites it is easy to understand just how many people can be reached by jumping on this wagon:
- MySpace - 263,920,102
- Facebook – 250,000,000
- Twitter – 44,500,000
- Flickr – 32,000,000
- LinkedIn – 43,000,000
For those of you not cyber-networking yet, today might be a good day to give it some consideration. Business or no business – it is stacks of fun.