How can social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn benefit technology businesses?
At first glance you might think that social networking websites can't really benefit IT or Managed Services practices. In fact many businesses have seen it fit to ban employees from these types of websites during work hours, as they can tend to lead to losses in employee productivity. There is some validity to this argument, but if looked at from outside of the cubicle walls, the benefits of social networking websites in terms of technology businesses can be easily seen.
The Numbers Game
Statistically speaking, there is nowhere else that a company can gain access to such an overwhelming number of people. Facebook is now regarded as the number one most popular social networking website in the world - claiming to have over three hundred and fifty million registered users worldwide and overtaking former leader Myspace. Linkedin; while mainly used for professional networking, claims to have up to fifty million registered users. Whether a company is looking to advertise on one of these sites or is simply looking to keep in touch with their customers and employees, numbers don't lie.
From its inception Facebook has been a website dedicated to connecting people with similar interests. It began with Harvard University students, then expanded to other ivy league schools, then all colleges, universities and high schools. While most users of the site find it is most useful for simply keeping in touch with friends and family, its usefulness should not be limited to just those two functions. Most workplaces are “social experiments” so to speak, this is where Facebook proves its worth. Users of the site can join groups and networks organized by workplace, personal interests or areas of expertise; allowing them to connect with other users based on things that they have in common.
By design LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. LinkedIn enables users to maintain a list of contacts of individuals they trust and know in business. Registered users can invite anyone to become a connection. A contact network is then established between everyone's common connections. Connections are beneficial as they can be used to find business opportunities and employers can list job positions and people seeking employment can research companies they may be thinking about working for. LinkedIn Groups enable users to create relationships with other users on any subject such as alumni, fraternal organizations, industries, occupations or companies.
The advantages of social networking websites are twofold. Primarily they provide contact to hundreds of millions of people worldwide and the resultant advertising potential is phenomenal. Secondly, they facilitate individuals connecting with one another based on similar interests. It is easier for individuals to connect with you from a business perspective if they feel that they are somehow connected with you socially.