Social Networking - Advantages and Disadvantages
Despite its obvious popularity, and widespread acceptance around the world, social networking, such as occurs on big, general interest sites, such as Facebook, and smaller, special focus sites, such as AdlandPro, is a relatively recent phenomenon.
By Donovan Baldwin
However, it has to be admitted that these sites are popular, they bring people together, and they offer broad platforms for hobbies, business, and social interaction. As with anything this freedom of interaction is not without its positives and negatives. So, let's take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of social networking.
Whether you are looking for a conversation, a lifetime partner, or a way to grow your business, social networking is definitely cheap. In fact, there are many people who choose to do all their business promotion and building on social networks such as Facebook. You might be surprised that many people who have an online business do not even have a website or any other online presence.
Of course, social networking is, without a doubt, a "cheap date", and a club without any real dues. You show up when you want and break off when you want.
It's An Easy Way To Build "Street Cred"
Again, whether you are using social networking for business or pleasure, it's an easy way to present your personality, knowledge, and interest to the people who might be interested. Of course, people don't like you, or your product, just because you type in the occasional witty comment or post a funny picture. To get in-depth business or personal relationships you need to do your homework and provide content of value, just as in any other business or personal relationship.
Fantastic Networking Resource
Pretty much the instant you become "friends" with someone at a social networking site such as Facebook, or AdlandPro, you will find that THEY are linked to other people who may also fit the categories of people you are looking for. You never can tell from which direction the links are going to come either. I became a Facebook friend with an old high school acquaintance, only to find out that his son was the narrator of several shows that I liked on the Discovery Channel!
If you are providing your social networking friends with quality, caring communications, whether of business or personal content, they will open the door to hundreds of others who may fit into your areas of interest, either as a friend, a lover, or a potential customer.
Don't forget, by the way, the best form of advertising is word-of-mouth from a satisfied customer. If a "friend" does become a "customer", a few good words from them can be worth thousands of dollars in advertising. If it is NOT a business relationship, a good word from one of these people can make you feel good for weeks, months, or even years.
Good stuff, eh?
But, what about the disadvantages of social networking?
Like at Cheers, "Everybody Knows Your Name"
If you want to be anonymous on a social networking site, you may find yourself having to work a little harder than you think. It can be done, but you will need to do a little research about how to keep your name, age, sex, location, etc., out of the public domain. Also, no matter how careful YOU are, you never can tell when someone else will let something slip.
A perfect example of this almost happened to me just the other day.
I posted an old picture on a relative's Facebook page. It had several people who had passed away, and he was happy to see it. In his comments, he mentioned that he had some old pictures but didn't know who the people were.
My sister, who is not social network savvy, left a comment that our 97-year-old mother might be able to tell who they were. She then proceded to tell our relative her address, and email, which, of course, made it visible to anyone else who could look at his page. At one point, she was about to divulge my address, phone number, blood type...who knows what?
Even if people are not specifically stalking YOU, there are all kinds of software that can gather indiviual bits of data about you, and then, put it together into a comprehensive package of who you are, where you live, what your phone number is, what kind of car you drive, and such juicy little bits as the big new TV you bought, and when you are going to be out of town on vacation for two weeks!
Get my drift?
Which discussion, I guess, is a natural lead in to....da..da..da..ta..da!
Possibility Of Being Scammed or Harassed
In addition to whatever personal data YOU, and/or loved ones puts out there, there are lots of, well, let's call them "entrepreneurs" who are scouring the social networking sites for THEIR business...or pleasure. Some of these people are not very nice, and many would not hesitate to befriend you, patting you on the back with one hand while lifting your wallet with the other.
Despite the best efforts of social networking sites, such venues are rife with cases of cyber-stalking, and identity theft. It's difficult to tell you to have fun on Facebook, but, watch your back, I know, but, that's how it is in the social networking world.
It Takes A Lot Of Time...Unless You Hire An Expert
While it seems like an article or comment you post will be seen by a cast of thousands, in reality, unless you are taking special steps to "get it out there", only a few people will ever see it. That's where some of the "networking" aspect comes in. However, building a large, and responsive network of people, whether they are into windsurfing, or want to buy your product, takes a lot of time and effort.
If, however, you are willing to pay a little bit, it is possible to get an expert to build your social network for you. The cost varies from a few dollars a month with a service like ineedhits.com, which specializes in small businesses, up to huge chunks of cash for the big boys.
Well, I hope this has been a beneficial discussion. As you expected at the start, nothing is simple or easy, but, many people and busineses are using social networking sites to build businesses...and relationships, and, it looks like these sites are going to be a part of the Internet business landscape for a while.
FACEBOOK ADVERTISING GUIDE