Photo by Hans Põldoja
Social networks add an element to online communication that forum boards and e-mails may struggle with: small talk. There is no specific subject, there’s no specific need to talk to one particular person, you can just update your status randomly.
1. Easier Ways to Connect with Friends
Facebook and Google+ are the most popular networks out there. They allow you to do many things from updating your status to sharing videos and they don’t focus on any one activity.
Pros: Good if your friends and family are far away, but they can also make us lazy.
Cons: You may wind up seeing your friends less this way until you realise you may have become more secluded. Rather than going out to a pub with mates and have a laugh, you discuss things online.
2. Establish Relationships with Co-Workers or Find New Ones
Other social networks have their own niche, even though many of the tools used to achieve social networking are similar.
Whilst on Facebook you might post the picture of last night’s party, on LinkedIn you are most likely to talk about your latest job or update your resume.
Pros: Useful tool for finding a job or an employee.
Cons: Some businesses use it to spam other people with their newsletters
3. Dating – No More Chatting Up in a Coffee Shop
There are many strategies that dating sites use to connect users to each other because, unlike the previous two types of social networks, you probably don’t know much about the people you wind up dating.
Dating sites will try to actively match you with other people through gimmicks like games or services that give more exposure to your specific profile.
Pros: You can find ‘matches’ quickly.
Cons: Most of those matches are shallow.
4. News Sharing and Bookmarking
Sites such as StumbleUpon and Reddit can be used by readers to point people to pages and news they find interesting, sparking discussion from other readers thus creating a connection.
Twitter also falls into this category – at the close of the 2010 Japan vs Denmark World Cup football game for example, Twitter users published more than 3000 tweets per second.
Pros: Facilitate discussion about the latest news
Cons: They can be a waste of time. Do we really need to know how many times you went to the toilet today? Just sayin’.
5. Collaborative Efforts
There are quite a few web sites that allow people to actually work together. In this case users share files with others, review or modify them in real time. A good example of this is Huddle.com
This has proven to be such an effective way to work, that it is now evolving into what is known as unified desktop. Being able to share and modify documents on the go and exchange reviews instantly is a very useful system also for a business!
Pros: Many people can interact on the same thing at the same time
Cons: Managers might fall in the trap of micromanaging too much
James Duval is an IT specialist who has a brain full of fantastic business ideas and just loves to share them online. He writes and blogs about emerging technologies and businesses for Intercall Europe.