Navigating the Social Jungle

Social networks have become a huge part of our lives: we tweet whilst on the move, we share links that we find funny or interesting and we even connect with fellow professionals. This is all done through social networking. Many businesses now have employees in place to specifically manage their social networking strategies.

This post explains the social networks and services that I have come across since starting this website, and what each of them can be used for. It also acts as a shameless plug for my various accounts.

Usual Suspects

Twitter: @RobertJSettle

Twitter first launched in March 2006 and as of 2012 has over 500 million users which is phenomenal for a service that is less than 7 years old. Part of the appeal with Twitter is how the messages (tweets) that you post are limited to 140 characters. This means that what you say has to be straight to the point.

Most businesses now use twitter as a significant part of their marketing portfolios. Earlier this year Twitter brought in a new feature called promoted tweets which are tweets that companies have paid for, to be shown alongside your usual tweets and accounts.

Facebook: Robert Settle

Facebook is the largest social network around today. It has over 900 million active users which is almost an eighth of the entire world population. The website started in 2004 (less than 10 years ago) and has already sparked a film portraying how the site was founded.

Facebook was originally aimed at students from Harvard but soon became a worldwide phenomenon. We use Facebook for conversations, playing games (this has become a huge market) and even for commenting on articles from other websites. Businesses create pages so that they can interact with their fans, providing them with information about their products/services.

Google+: Robert Settle

Google+ compared to the other main social networks is a relative newcomer to the party. Google+ was introduced in  just over 12 months ago and with the backing of Google has already amassed 250 million registered active users.

The service like it’s main competitor (Facebook) allows you to add friends (via it’s circle functionality) and share interesting/funny articles via your posts.

Professional Use

It’s not what you know but who you know.

You might be the most talented individual in your industry but if no-one knows about you then you’re wasting your abilities. Websites like LinkedIn are there as a way of getting your name out there, communicating with others in your industry etc. You can also use these websites to build connections with other company directors potentially leading to work further down the line.

LinkedIn: Robert Settle

LinkedIn allows for users to connect to others that they know through their professional network. Those you have worked with can recommend you, leaving messages for prospective employees to see. LinkedIn can effectively act as your online curriculum vitae (C.V.).

It allows for you to input your employment history, your skills and experiences and pretty much anything else to do with your career. You can join groups aimed at particular industries where you can have conversations with like-minded individuals. LinkedIn has now become an integral part of the job searching/recruitment process.

Zerply: RobertJSettle

Zerply is a relatively small site when compared to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It launched last year (late 2011) and is aimed towards the creative users (designers, writers, photographers etc) who wish to display their work rather than simply list it (like on other social networks).

Like with LinkedIn it allows for other users to endorse (recommend) you based on the tags that you decided for your profile. These tags describe what it is you are and what you do. It will be interesting to see how the Zerply website enhances it’s services as it becomes more popular.

Design & Development

Dribbble: No Account

Dribbble is a website similarly to Zerply, where you can showcase the design work that you have done. It could be sneak previews of websites, UI examples, landing pages etc. As a developer this site isn’t aimed at people like me but for designers it’s a great site to be a part of.

You can get feedback on your latest work or even get inspiration from what other people have posted. Dribbble works off an invite system where you must receive enough invites/endorsements from other designers before you can start sharing the work that you have done. The ability to get instant feedback from other like-minded designs is an invaluable tool to have at your disposal.

Forrst: Rjs37

Forrst like Dribble is another site which works from an invite system.The main difference (for me) between Dribbble and Forrst is that Forrst isn’t solely aimed at designers, it’s also accessible for developers too. You can share snapshots, links, or code samples or you can start a discussion by asking a question.

It is useful to get feedback on what you have been working on, in-case you are making incorrect assumptions about how something works/appears. BTW If you’d like to join, drop me a line on my contact page and I’ll see what I can do.

Other Services

StumbleUpon: Rjs37

I only recently joined StumbleUpon so I have not yet become familiar with the service. However the basic premise of StumbleUpon is that you tell it what topics you are interested in and then it will randomly show you an article from one of these topics with you then stumbling from one article to another.

Klout: RobertJSettle

Klout is a service I came across shortly after signing up to Twitter. At first it seemed to be nothing more than an ego boost, giving you a score for how influential you are. However after spending more time using it and following the scoring it has convinced me that it could be a very useful part of my social networking strategy.

The scoring in Klout is worked off many factors spread across your usual social networks. Essentially though, the more people mention you, re-tweet your tweets or post on your facebook/google wall the higher your score will be. However Klout also shows you which topics you are influential in, this allows you to quickly see whether your social strategy is paying dividends.

Summary

Ultimately this is only a small selection of a ever-growing number of social networks and their services. There are also a large number of applications around that are designed to make it easier and quicker to get your message out. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Seesmic all allow you to share your posts across multiple social networks at the same time, they also act as a way of managing your social networks in one place.

I am not professing to being a social media expert, I am simply sharing the experiences that I have had since starting on this website less than 2 months ago. Several years ago if a business did not have a website then they were in huge danger of being left behind, a similar situation now applies to social networking.

People are spending more and more time on these social networking websites so it is natural for businesses to want to interact with their consumers through these websites and services. Ignore social networking at your peril, they are here to stay and as such will continue to be a huge part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

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