Social Networks

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In an effort to create some distinction between generic Social Networks and other types of Social Media such as Status Update Networks, Location Update Networks, Professional Networks, Video Networks or otherwise, we’re using the bare term “Social Network” to represent the most basic generic type of Social Networking platform, such as Facebook or Google+. The fact of the matter is that Social Network platforms are a nascent industry; Facebook, the most popular Social Network platform in the United States, is less than 10 years old. While these platforms offer a tremendous amount of access to your target audience, you should realize that they are in a constant state of evolution.

From the public’s perspective, generic Social Networks are a great method for creating groups with similar affinities. On the negative side, generic Social Networks have been riddled with privacy concerns. Traits or characteristics input by members are utilized by the platform operators to offer those members only content, suggestions or advertisements that are of high value and relevancy.

On the positive side, generic Social Networks have few restrictions for admittance. Essentially anyone from a 5-year-old to a great grandparent can join…and they do! Allowing “anyone” to join a generic Social Network platform allows the platform to generate high membership numbers. These platforms turn around and offer these high “numbers” to potential advertisers.

The difficulty with these types of generic networks, from the platform’s perspective or the member’s perspective is the ability to filter. In other words, grouping members into similar affinity groups becomes more of an issue if the platform is open to all types of members with an unlimited amount of affinities. While the amount of members may seem attractive from a marketer’s perspective, the ability to reach a high-value member of their target audience comes into question. The more members of the generic social platform receive ad impressions or offers that are irrelevant for them, the less likely they are to trust the platform with personal information.

The next wave of Social Network will likely be targeted to a specific or niche audience but then the platform will be faced with a completely different scenario: Is the membership audience large enough to generate the required revenue for the platform to remain profitable? With these niche Social Networks the advertising dollar will likely go much further because the platform allows advertisers to reach a very specific type of audience.

Like all Social Media, generic Social Network platforms usually allow your profile to be integrated with other types of Social Media networks, such as Video Networks, Photo Networks, Location Update Networks, Status Update Networks or otherwise. In this sense, they are very versatile. From a Search Engine Optimization perspective, generic Social Network platforms are crawled daily. A business page on a generic Social Network, like Facebook, can essentially become a hub for many other types of Social Media profiles, like Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Flickr or otherwise. In some instances a generic Social Network business profile page can end up ranking higher than an organization’s actual Web site.

Having a generic Social Network business page can be a double-edged sword. There are positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, from a tactical perspective, a business page can be easy to set up and maintain. On the negative side, these platforms don’t require any type of professional credential in order to manage a business page. This latter point should be of concern for any type of organization with a “business” page. Professional communicators have a passion for the communication process and are usually educated in Communication. We take elements of Communication like style, grammar, syntax, target audience, appeal, rhetorical modes or devices, very seriously. Now consider that Social Media in general have ushered in an age of real-time advertising or conversation marketing.

Through a generic Social Network business page your organization can communicate with the most valued members of your target audience on an hourly basis, or sparingly. Your organization can send out 10 status updates a day, once a month or less frequently. Your organization can post videos or photos daily, monthly or less frequently. Ultimately your communication frequency should be carefully considered and scheduled along with the other elements of the communication process. Additionally, seasonality should be considered. What types of special offers or other type of communication do you want to send throughout various parts of the year? Should you “flight” your special offers?

Generic Social Network profiles can win an audience over through positive brand-building, or erode your most coveted audience. Generic Social Network profiles can be easily integrated with other Social Media accounts thus assisting with Search Engine visibility. These factors are attractive but now consider that professional communication as an art has fundamentally changed with the advent of Social Media. Even professional communicators challenged to adapt to the construct of real-time advertising and conversation public relations. Vagary professionals possess the technical background required for successful Social Media initiatives and we are educated in the art of professional communication. Vagary is Social Media Solutions.