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Social Networking for Business

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More companies are now discovering that a connected business is not just about implementing a set of business marketing tools -- it is also about embracing the shift in our culture of the 21st century to create an environment where business and the customers develop relationships through sharing and collaboration. This paper will address what is social networking, some of the benefits of social networking such as, monitoring on¬line communities, creating and supporting virtual communities, developing new communication channels, and fostering a wide range of customer engagements, and also barriers to using social networking. In addition, it will highlight some popular networking sites for professionals and business to use as marketing tools, like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube. Social networking tools of the 21st century will unlock a business's potential.

With the new millennium comes a new way to communicate. Social networking sites have replaced telephones and letters with a global social media. It is the new way to communicate in the 21st century. Dictionary.com defines social networking as "the development of social and professional contacts; the sharing of information and services among people with a common interest" (Dictionary.com, 2012). The development of Web 2.0 applications has created this social networking experience. "Web 2.0 enables collaboration in a way that had previously been impossible. Web 2.0 provides a forum for everyone to share their voice and ideas with the world. Web 2.0 is collaborative and revolutionary" (Bowles, 2010, Chapter 7.1).

Businesses are taking advantage of this new revolution. There are benefits of using social networking as a tool for marketing. One benefit is "monitoring on¬line communities" (Kiron, Palmer, Phillips, & Kruschwitz, 2012). Businesses are able to track the company's reputation, view customer opinions, profile their users, and their behaviors. For example, when LinkedIn "confirmed a report that 6.5 million of its accounts had been compromised" (Crisis mismanagement, 2012), the response was monitored. "Although the majority of mentions did not express any sentiment, about 19% of posts, which were manually analysed between 5 and 10 June, contained negative comments about LinkedIn, with 8% cynical or sarcastic and a further 8% directly criticising the site" (Crisis mismanagement, 2012). With this information, the company can implement damage control measures.

Another benefit is "creating and supporting virtual communities" (Kiron, Palmer, Phillips, & Kruschwitz, 2012). Businesses can form a more personalized relationship with their target customer by creating or supporting on-line communities that relate to their products. A company selling hiking gear may create or support a website for outdoor enthusiast. Participants could share photos, stories, or tips.



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