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What is Social Networking?

What is social networking

With so much jargon floating around the internet, it’s easy to get lost! So to get the the best understanding of the world of digital marketing, it is a great idea to go back to basics and ensure you know exactly what social networking is…

As with our previous article on what social media is all about, we like to use Wiktionary to give simple definitions. With social networking, four are provided…

“1. The interaction between a group of people who share a common interest
2. Using social contacts to network
3. The use of internet communities to network and communicate using shared interests, related skills, or geographical location between consumers and businesses.
4. A web interface that allows users to post messages and interact. Groups and relationships of complete strangers may be formed by various means such as interests, mutual friends or common activities.”

When it comes to social media, we are concerned with the latter two of these definitions - so why have we listed them all? Well, to get a good grasp of what internet social networking is it’s a good idea to look at what it stemmed from - and social networking sites are a result of the first two.

Social networking for people

Essentially, a social network is just that - a network of people who act socially by sharing media or interacting directly with other users. These users could be your real friends, or you could make brand new friends who also happen to be between 21-30, support Chelsea and collect Super Mario memorabilia - such is the beauty of social networking sites!

Social networking for businesses

Far from just being about telling people ‘what sandwich you just ate’, (not to knock the importance of that information), a social networking site can also be used for business. Here, they are particularly useful as they allow companies to communicate directly with their customers. Social networking sites remodel how businesses and people interact. Rather than there being a one way line of communication, now a conversation can be started which can be intersected by other friends and users.

Still not convinced? The reason businesses are able to be so successful is the sheer number of users they can reach out to! According to DigitalBuzz, between the years of 2010 - 2011, Facebook alone had 640 million users amounting to 310 million daily unique visitors - which would make it the third largest country in the World. That’s a figure that it is very hard to overlook!

There are tonnes of social networking sites out there including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name but a few. Each of them have their own intricacies and processes, so to give you the best idea of how they all work we’ll be exploring each one individually in further blogs - keep your eyes peeled!

What is Social Media all about?

What is social media all about

Unlike other forms of media, social media is a phenomenon is its own right. To get the best from it, you need to understand what it's all about - and the best way to do that is to go back to basics and look at it with fresh eyes.

Let's start from the top. One of the simplest definitions of Social Media is provided by Wiktionary

“Interactive forms of media that allow users to interact with and publish to each other, generally by means of the Internet."

So social media is basically a form of media which at its core tries to promote an immediate and widespread interaction. The 21st century has seen an exponential change in how users can do this - developments in new technology, the internet and apps have given us access to instantaneous responses to posts. But how should it be used?

Let’s go deeper…

The main point of Social Media is exactly what it says on the tin - being social and interacting with your audience so they can get to know you better! In their 2011 Social Media Marketing Report, Michael A. Stelzner of SocialMediaExaminer.com highlighted the importance of this by saying…

The number-one benefit of social media marketing is standing out in an increasingly noisy world… marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. Improving traffic and subscribers was the second major benefit… ”

It is important to note that while clever Social Media may be able to assist in generating leads and sales, its main focus is always going to be exposure. Why does that matter? As people begin to recognise your brand, they will naturally have a relationship with you. While the vast majority of interactions you receive will not result in a sale or a lead, that relationship will mean that when a user does require a service you provide they are more likely to remember you and trust you!

The “Here & Now” aspect…

As Social Media is all about the instant, once you have a following you will be able to see ROI far quicker when compared to other conventional forms of marketing. For example, a local restaurant with a week long special offer will be able to generate more awareness, and this will naturally grow as users begin to share the information with their network.

The beauty of social media is clear - it's brought a new level of interactivity to media, and given power to the everyday user of the internet. Opinions can now be heard and are easily accessible and businesses are able reach out and interact with potential customers.

We hope that social media is now a concept that you fully understand - if you have any questions or would like to add what we've been talking about here, we'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading.

Hello from Giraffe Social Media!

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Welcome to the Expert Blog of Giraffe Social Media.  The mission of this blog is to help you with all things social media. We will be aiming to explore every area of social media, providing industry updates and showing you how it can be used to market your business.

With our help, we believe you can become a social media expert too

We are also really eager to answer any specific questions you might have; so if you do have any, please email them to us at hello@giraffesocialmedia.co.uk - with the subject heading 'Blog Question'.

Well that's pretty much everything for now, make sure to pop your head in every now and then - we'll be happy to see you! Don't be a stranger.

- Giraffe Team

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