There is no doubt that online social networking has exploded into incredible levels of popularity in the past few years. In fact, social networking is more popular than email, and preferred over email.
Almost seventy percent of recent Internet users report having visited a social networking site at least once in the past year. With these extraordinary numbers, there comes many different ways to monetize social networking.
Facebook and Twitter, currently two of the most popular social networking sites out there, are allowing people to connect with others they will probably never meet in person. Facebook, in particular, is very popular among upper-middle class individuals and is fast-growing among the 35 and up crowd. Twitter is growing in leaps and bounds every day.
While MySpace was originally the flagship social networking site for a few years, it has now been mainly relegated to teens and urban dwellers, rather than businesses hoping to make a living on it. The benefit of MySpace is mostly its heavy HTML orientation, allowing users to customize their pages relatively easily.
Facebook, in contrast, has a cleaner, starker layout that leans heavily toward updating one’s status and reading everyone else’ status updates. It is a terrific social networking tool for sharing links and photos. Some believe that Facebook is too “invasive” in terms of privacy, but the great thing about Facebook is its ability to customize settings to block certain information to network “friends.” Others use Facebook strictly for business purposes, collecting “friends” that share the same business or interests.
LinkedIn is another fantastic social network site that is growing every day. It’s like having your business card and resume out there for the world to see and to network with people that are in your particular business or service industry. LinkedIn is also geared heavily toward upper income individuals and professionals (in contrast to the more “social” MySpace). It is a good website to advertise one’s business and showcase a professional image.
Twitter is the newest social networking tool right now, and it shows tremendous promise for its ability to market to a specific group and for affiliate marketers to make huge profits. It’s very simple to use, fun, requires very little software knowledge (in contrast to MySpace), and can reach a wide or targeted audience at will. The best feature of Twitter is the easy, quick, ability to throw out links to one’s webpage.