Socialmedia Catalyst

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Web Influence

Facebook and the new Q&A

Yahoo Answers was the first Q&A site that i was exposed to. When it had started, it was exciting to see for any given question, you always had someone answering it. Someone who has the expertise or the experience in answering the question. Then there was the country editions that were started. Each country had their own Q&A sites like India had Rediff Q&A. This was the time, when we were just graduating from Chat systems to better and easy interactivity to off beat questions.

Need to be social
The intent of an individual to be – social – You create a social networking site. All sites began to gather momentum to

Then you provide people to become ego-massagers through interaction – You create the sharability feature

Then you provide them with resource of information – Search – via Google, first, then via Bing

and now bring in more interaction and kind of AI – through Collaborative research, big competition to Vark and Yahoo Answers.

What Next?
Google Answers has shut down!! But they bought Vark, where they wanted to integrate the real time and social search in a way that it becomes more sharable

FormSpring – Another Social QnA which created a whole new way of leveraging Facebook, Twitter and even Blogging platforms.

Even though there are so many social platforms that are available to answer your query. But the best part is that there is an inherent quality in us that we want answers, provided we have the right questions.

Why social networking sites have become so famous?

Daksh: I was wondering as to the reason for people to use these sites and what do they do for so long on social networks, the biggest discovery happened? Pictures, bingo. People just love to look at pictures. That’s the killer application of all online social networks. Seventy percent of all actions are related to viewing pictures or viewing other people’s profiles.” Why the popularity of photos? People who post pictures of themselves can show they are having fun and are popular without having to boast

Moksh: Another draw of photos (and of Social Network sites in general) is that they enable a form of voyeurism. In real life there is a strong norm against prying into other people’s lives. But online enables “a very delicate way for me to pry into your life without really prying”

Daksh: yes, also I found out that there are radical differences in gender use of sites. The biggest usage categories are men looking at women they don’t know, followed by men looking at women they do know. Women look at other women they know. Overall, women receive two-thirds of all page views.

Moksh: This seems to be a real big surprise: A lot of guys in relationships are looking at women they don’t know. This is true more in western world than conservative Asia. It’s an easy way to see if anyone might be a better match. Online networks act as cover.

Daksh: Social networking gives access to people who you would find difficult to meet on a very frequent basis. Moreover the geographical barriers and we get to know the various things happening with your friends and acquaintances in their daily life.

Moksh: A very different question is raised by my friends. Does social networking reduce the interpersonal skills of children who prefer interacting with friends online than in person? I completely disagree to the same. It is a new form of communication and it changes with times. There are pros and cons to it and it is as yet a grey area which will be explored in times to come.

Are social networks here to stay? Is it a revolution?

Clubbing was a decade old form of social networking. Today people tweet their thoughts for the world to see. In between, we’ve had instant messaging, MySpace, Facebook and blogs.

Social networking technology is changing the way consumers, investors and traders interact and share information. However, all companies are struggling to find ways to show how the trend is actually adding to the bottom line. Almost every industry has seen the influence of social networking.

Moksh: Online social networking is here to stay—the only change will be in what form it takes. It isn’t just a fad. However it needs to keep on coming up with innovations. The content and the features will have to be kept updated very frequently for the consumer to retain interest in the same.

Daksh: yes, apart from this, more interactivity between the website and the user will go a long way in him being loyal and an evangelist for the site to a new user or even an existing user. I think the young generation get bored very easily and thus the secret to success for the network would be real time innovation, as Moksh said. It is very difficult to be logged in your site when he has plenty other options just at the click of a button.

Moksh: people ask me whether social networking would take advertisement away from the conventional media. The answer is that no media can be indispensable, ever. Period.
Each media compliments the other and social networking isn’t any different. The only thing that might happen is that initially till the media is new and people have not experienced it, some amount of content will go to it. But in the long run, it will all even out.

Daksh: people in India don’t buy or sell stuff online which I think could be a small drawback in terms of leveraging the media for trade purposes. Advertising is fine but not trade. Also the internet connectivity in India is very low which could act as a barrier. Stringent laws by the government will help trade and as people’s confidence in the system increases, more use of social networks will happen.

Understanding social network users:

For the last few decades, sociologists and psychologists have been wondering whether computers are going to spell the demise of interpersonal communication. We are all going to retreat into our dark rooms where our computers are located, and avoid things like playing cricket with the neighbors, shopping at the mall, or heading down the haji ali road for a juice at the famous juice centre.

It seems that the people mostly impacted but the rise of social networking would be the clubs who charge a bomb for membership. But this may just be more a result of what they have (rather don’t have) to offer young people, more than just the cheap drinks.

To attract the youth, you need Wireless Internet may be a Wi-fi or Wimax. I wouldn’t go to a club if I don’t have internet connectivity.

Moksh: As a Marketing person who does business online, I need to understand the psyche of the young chap. They are not introverts who sit nonstop on the internet. For them, it is their way of mingling with friends.

Daksh: I could not agree more. This audience has grown up in a system where the computer is an answer to all the problems. Be it information on a particular thing or if you are getting bored, play online games on local network, play online pranks and enjoy everything at just the click of a button.

Moksh: I think parents are also responsible for this attitude of children. They do not want the children to play out. So they prefer them sitting at home and on the computer. Thus getting back on the marketing aspect, these people are very strong influencers for a brand. It is almost like word of mouth publicity e.g. mouthshut.com or consumercomplaints.co.in. This audience sits non stop online and have an opinion on all things. And it carries weight since it is from a similar peer group for the consumers.

Daksh: social networking is going to change the rules of the game for marketers. Rather than just putting up ads on the face of the consumers, interactive based marketing will be the way forward.

Moksh: marketers need to understand that to make consumers loyal to your product/ service, you need to make them a member of your product community (as in case of orkut) online. The consumers should have problems solving avenues online so that you can get as close to understanding him as possible. Their need to be social networking managers to handle the traffic.

Daksh: Finally, it can act like a double edged sword. Good reviews magnify the impact help but bad reviews damage too and they need to be managed effectively.

Orkut and its new Look

Orkut has introduced a completely new get up facing competition with Facebook. (via Orkut Blog)

Orkut - New Look

Orkut - New Look

The new look is a mixture taking elements from MySpace the new default color theme, updates is a are very Facebook element and last one also the see the notification like the one in gmail.

What would have made a difference and probably switch the evolved internet users back to Orkut would the integration of status updates via twitter, friendfeed and any other RSS compatible links.

Primarily, Orkut being very popular in Brazil and India, they should have added some very specific themes which are contextually relevant to Brazilians and Indians respectively. Plus, the usability has also become easy in the sense that a person does not need to wait for new tab or window to open. Personally, i always liked Orkut, since it was the first social networking site that i was introduced to and that time, till date I dont like chatting, so Orkut was a welcome relief to be connecting with friends and at the same time, we dont need to give them instant responses.

Even though, you have the chat facility in Orkut, the video chat may not be all that successful, since we are still facing with low bandwith and the major population who is accessing Orkut, might still be using Dial up, so then the chances of using video chat again, diminishes.

With the new feature, you might just have a slight increase in the usage and interactivity on Orkut, but then a lot of people in groups have already shifted to Facebook and now adopting to Twitter. Dont see all of them shifting or spending time on Orkut, untill they make some drastic changes, not just theme colour. They should also look into adding some more community features and connecting with the people on the communities.

How can you provide value and make Facebook work better for others?

1. Engage the reader. Ask him questions about his business. Show interest in them, and they will show interest in you.

2. be gracious. Thank them for being a follower. Thank them for friend-requesting you. Always say thank you.

3. Reciprocate. Return the tweet by commenting on one of their tweets or blog posts. Tell them you like their site, their profile picture, etc. Say it and mean it.

4. Create Passion. Write and link to content that not only will interest the readers, but will also interest you. Readers can tell when you’re writing about something that you’re mildly interested in and something that you have a passion for.

Being a part of a social site needn’t be about who ate lunch where or an outline of your daily habits because that is what is happening with twitter. Add value to your pages and keep the readers coming back for more by giving them that value. Write about interesting topics. Write about unusual practices. Blog about changes in your company’s industry. Blog about blogging and how it has helped you online.

Whatever you find that adds value to your online presence, use it to its maximum and your readers will fill in the rest of the puzzle. Build it and they will come

Creating Value on Your Facebook and Twitter Social Networks:

Nowadays it is a fashion statement to be on Facebook or twitter or any other social networking website. So if you’re a Twitterer or a Facebooker, do you have something of value to say or we are just following the herd? Are we doing any value addition so as to help broaden the mindset of your followers with your information?
For me the social networking scene is good for my business, but am I contributing enough for others in my circle?
When the Facebook platform first became popular, it was primarily with college students who socialized about things that interested them: parties test scores, campus events, etc. After a while (like these days), you can find a lot more diversified audience of moms, freelancers and a host of businesses who connect to their own websites and product lines. According to Facebook’s statistics page, there are now over 200 million users on Facebook and that is a lot of people who have something to say!
With Twitter, it’s quite flattering to get a “ding” in your inbox announcing that someone is “now following you on Twitter.” We never tire or get bored with reading who’s following you because we want to learn more about them. I think that’s one component of Twitter that’s pretty good. And since Twitter responses are more succinct than Facebook’s (generally speaking), when you Tweet, you better be sure to have something to say, say it quickly (or succinctly), and move on. But what if you are of the ‘know-it-all types and like to explain things in detail?
These are only two social networks that I’ve mentioned, but there are countless more with new ones popping up all of the time. They certainly are here to stay, but are you as an individual, a business person or a corporate representative getting any value from those sites? Are you finding that they enhance your business knowledge, or do you find that you’re trudging through a lot of unnecessary information to get to the pearls? The answers to these questions will decide whether you add value to others or not.

Niche Social Networking:

MySpace and Friendster’s runaway popularity and exposure have helped spawn an array of targeted networking sites. Are Advertisers noticing?

Vox, a social networking and blogging site with strict privacy controls, so users can limit who sees particular posts. Vox users can make some content available to the general public. Other posts and photos can only be seen by users designated as true friends, family members, or people in the user’s extended neighborhood (which includes friends of friends).

NEW MODELS
Since launching to the general public, Vox has nearly tripled in size. Its success indicates a trend among newer social networking sites, which are gaining traction not by focusing on the mass-popularity model that made News Corp.’s MySpace famous, but by helping users connect with smaller, more specific, groups.

ItLinkz ,on Jan. 31, the social networking company launched the first of its 13 planned targeted networking sites. Its initial offering, NurseLinkup.com, already has more than 500 health professionals visiting the site. The site launched, in part, to help users frustrated with the party atmosphere of MySpace, which has users with hundreds of thousands of friends and a reputation for having a 25-and-under audience. (Incidentally, comScore reports that more than half of MySpace users are over 35.) “MySpace is for everyone, our focus is on communities” according to Myspace executives.

Saving of employers resources on advertisement for jobs:

Many business-networking sites also post jobs on their sites. So, you get one more online option to look out for jobs, i.e. in addition to the job portals. Online networking also helps you to build relationships before you can actually ask for a job. And that too without facing the recruiter. It is always better to break the ice in the virtual world before meeting in the real world. This is particularly beneficial to people who are somewhat apprehensive about talking to strangers.

Many of the recruiters also use networking sites for finding out potential employees. In an interview, there is always a chance of the candidate lying about his capabilities, though, the availability of sophisticated software and the various developments taking place in the HR field makes it very easy for the recruiter to spot the lies. In an online networking site, the relationship is established and trust is built over a period. Hence, the recruiter is able to decide the true capabilities of a person. This is also perhaps the reason why more and more recruiters are choosing the ‘networking’ way instead of posting jobs online.

Business and networking sites are thus revolutionizing the way people are getting jobs. More and more people are becoming aware of the power and benefits of online networking. Online methods should be judiciously combined with traditional methods to make sure that you do bag that coveted job.

Future of LinkedIn:

LinkedIn has some of the smartest investors around. These investors have deep pockets and they are almost certainly following the model of building both scale and deep end user value before attempting too much monetization.

There are signs that they are looking at deepening their service value, specifically by becoming a network to find small service providers. With reputation ratings, that has big value. It has reciprocity as there are times as a buyer when you really need a small, specialist firm at short notice. So this is valuable to buyers as well as sellers. There are specialist networks doing this already, so LinkedIn can do it at scale across multiple domains.

Thinking about monetization, the primary motivations for using a business networking service like LinkedIn:

1. Push marketing. Find the right contacts to avoid cold call. This has limits. Over-use will lead to barriers getting erected to avoid ‘networking spam’. This is true whether one is selling a product, a service or person (e.g. recruiters). This works when it is occasional, uses close contacts only and there is reciprocity in the real world relationship.

2. Pull markerting. Put up your profile, or your firm’s profile, and get found by the right buyers. This is nascent in LinkedIn today but shows big promise.

3. Just-in-time expert advice for cash. This is what companies have done for years and they have built a real business. There are more consumer-oriented variants such as BitWine. With their scale, LinkedIn could easily get into this business.