Today, the term “social networking” now largely means interacting with people via online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Think of it as a virtual extension of your old-fashioned high-society parties, only on a much grander and faster scale than what could have been achieved years ago.
An online network is also more decentralized and democratic.Each member has the same communications and networking capability, whether they’re famous or not. However, there’s a downside to this. It means famous people can’t influence other people in the same way as before, because Aunt Emma and her Pomeranian’s photos are out there, building an online fan-following bigger than Madonna ever had.Don’t believe it’s possible? Google “Boo,” the world’s “cutest dog.”
This highly-shifting, volatile atmosphere means you can’t rely on having “powerful” friends or network contacts alone. You’ll also have to reach out to as many ordinary people as you can through other means.
Welcome to the ever-changing social circle
In the first place, an online social network itself can’t be the “be-all” and “end-all” of an online marketing strategy. That’s because existing online social networks eventually lose relevance, or end up with a specialized membership.
On top of this, new social networks keep popping up. Search the web and you’ll find a staggering 190-plus major social networking websites. Each site is like one big club, with members coming from nearly every spot on Earth.
And just like old-fashioned clubs, each social network is frequently about “something,” or offers a specialized networking experience. Some network sites are focused on a particular audience. Some of these started out targeting a global audience, but ended up with a highly-localized user population (e.g., Google Inc.’s Orkut, which is more popular with Indians and Brazilians). Others are focused on providing specialized self-promoting or information-sharing services (e.g., SoundCloud, a network and repository of original music or sound files done by up-and-coming artists), photo-sharing and free photo-modification effects (e.g., Instagram and Flickr), blogging (e.g., Xanga, Blogster), and even insider job referrals (e.g. LinkedIn).
Of course, nearly every single person has a Facebook or Twitter account these days; it’s how they keep everyone up to date on what’s going on in their lives, despite vast distances or busy schedules. It’s also how they “meet” friends of friends, and (hopefully) form important alliances. Thus, a Facebook or Twitter account is now nearly as important as having a phone number or email address.
That’s why people need these online social networks: they’re the fastest way to reach out to as many other people as possible. But once a more efficient means of socializing is invented, people will need that particular social network a lot less.That’s when a social network’s membership and relevance diminish.
This is precisely what happened to networking sites like Flickr, Myspace, and Friendster. When Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram introduced faster, more “aggressive” networking systems, many people shifted their online social activities away from the old to the new.
In other words, your target online audience is like a school of fish: they have favorite online haunts, but will also frequent other spots and eventually switch to a different hangout. You must therefore complement your efforts at networking through currently-popular sites with tactics that reach out to the same audience in the other online spots they go to.
Where are those other spots? The most prominent of these are Gmail and Google. These sites actually offer “adwords” or targeted advertising spots called Google Adwords Services to any interested advertiser.
First, Google tools and its vast search system sense what topics or keywords each user has been searching for over the past few days. It can also detect what a user has been writing or reading in his or her emails, by reading the email message subject titles. Based on such information, Google Adwords Services displays the appropriate clickable ad on the user’s search results or email account page. The ad can then be linked to a separate website, or even a Facebook or Twitter page, further enhancing your marketing strategies.
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