Social networks have become an integral part of our lives and the number of users of social networks has been constantly increasing. We check news and write messages to each other instead of calling directly. Meeting new people, we immediately look for the information about them in the Internet.
Social networks, with all their fame, appeared in our life not so long ago. The first social network in the world appeared in 1995 and it was called Classmates.com. It is functioning nowadays and has more than forty million registered users in Canada and the U.S.A. Randy Conrad, its’ creator, made a breakthrough on the Internet.
Social networks in the business world
For some companies the standard practice is to lead the customers to their business through social networks, while other companies create social networks and this is their business.
In fact, today many use Twitter and Facebook to promote existing and upcoming businesses. People looking to connect with other business-associated contacts usually move to sites like LinkedIn, but one needs to understand that social media is beyond Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogs.
Generally, top5 most popular social networks nowadays are:
Facebook; 900,000,000 – estimated unique monthly visitors, February 1, 2015.
Twitter; 310,000,000 – estimated unique monthly visitors, February 1, 2015.
LinkedIn; 255,000,000 – estimated unique monthly visitors, February 1, 2015.
Pinterest; 250,000,000 – estimated unique monthly visitors, February 1, 2015.
Google Plus+; 120,000,000 – estimated unique monthly visitors, February 1, 2015.
Believe it or not, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only cool social networking sites on the Web. With the daily explosion of startups, there are plenty of new social media tools popping up. These newer platforms could be working on the next big thing, so you’ll want to keep an eye out. The following social networks getting more and more popular nowadays:
anonymous social networks where users can share their feelings and thoughts without knowing each other. Example of such network may be Secret. This app is available for both Android and iOS;
addicted to taking selfies? Such app was designed for you too. There is a mobile social network through which you can snap and share selfies named Shots;
there are some popular social networks that allow you to share photos and videos with others (for example, Snapchat, which is available for both Android and iOS devices);
mobile text and voice messaging services. In addition to making free calls, you can share videos and photos, create group chats, and find new people nearby. For instance, WeChat. The app is available for Android, iOS and several other devices;
dating apps. As an example,Tinder is a mobile dating app that pulls your photo and basic info from your Facebook account. Users can swipe “yes” or “no” to potential matches who are nearby. If the feeling is mutual, people can chat within the app;
social networks for kids. Unfortunately, popular social networks are also filled with adult content, unfiltered comments and potential for cyberbullying, identity theft and child predators.
With this problem in mind, several companies have attempted to create safer alternatives that are essentially “Facebook for kids” – safe social network platforms where kids can be themselves without all the risks. Social networks for kids are built on the balance of entertainment, expression, experience, education and engagement without endangering exposure. Facebook isn’t for kids, but social networking can be. Kid-friendly social networks are monitored and include parental oversight to make sure everyone is safe.
As we may see from Altabel Group’s experience, some of our customers are potentially in a big way to create such social networks for kids. At the moment the most popular social networks for kids are Togetherville, ScuttlePad, Skid-e-Kids, Imbee, Club Penguin and Yoursphere. And who knows, maybe our current or next project will appear in one of the tops.
To your mind, what kind of awesome social network may appear in future? What new is interesting for users nowadays?
Statistics for businesses on social media
– 60% of Small-Medium Businesses (SMB) have gained new customers through social media;
– 46% of users check social media for product information prior to making a purchase;
– 99% of SMBs use Facebook, 98% are on Twitter, but only 59% trust Instagram;
– 90% of Twitter users follow you to get a discount. 67% of Twitter users are far more likely to buy from a specific brand they follow.
So as the statistics shows, businesses can no longer imagine going without social media – whether it’s retail, services or something else. And, although many among them still consider social media as a ‘necessary evil’, the advantages of being present on social media can no longer be ignored.
Social media APIs as effective tool to make business socially-adapted
Actually social media APIs provide businesses with a new way to personalize their marketing campaigns and communicate with customers. By building social media features into your website – whether by simple addition of plug-ins such as “like” or “follow” buttons or more in-depth functionality – you can allow your customers to leave feedback, interact, and communicate socially without having to leave the site or log in elsewhere.
You can also collect and display user-generated content, which can be extremely beneficial as the users themselves can create plenty of free material that might be interesting to a broader audience. In the case of user-generated content in a foreign language, a translation API can be used to facilitate communication. Translation APIs allow content management systems (Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, etc.) to seamlessly interact with a translation platform to translate uploaded content.
Developers have access to a number of social media application programming interfaces that can help them integrate the services of major social media services into their websites or applications. This is particularly beneficial for content providers, marketers or even e-commerce companies that may have share-worthy content or products.
APIs of top 5 most popular social networks
Facebook Graph API
With well over a billion active monthly users, Facebook is not only the biggest social network worldwide, but also an invaluable mine of data and personal information. Facebook’s Graph API is the core of Facebook Platform and is designed to provide access to every object in Facebook’s database, including users, photos, videos, statuses, conversations, places, and their interlinked relationships with each other.
Developers who log in to the Graph API can use data to create deeper, personalized experience for their own users.
Facebook authentication enables developers’ apps to interact with the Graph API on behalf of Facebook users, providing a single sign-on mechanism across web, mobile, and desktop apps.
This API makes it easy to connect with users on your website or application and offer them more personalized experience, as well as the ability to like and share pages on your site or app. It can also provide site registration features and a Facebook-based commenting system.
– Site registration;
– Commenting system.
Twitter Embedded Tweets
Twitter’s early policy of providing a relatively simple-to-use API ensured that a host of third-party apps quickly sprang up around the micro-blogging site. The Embedded Tweets tool allows you to take any tweet and embed it directly into the content of your article or website. Moreover, the tweets will display with expanded media (e.g. photos, videos, articles summaries, etc.) and real-time retweet and favorite counts. Plus, when the tweets are embedded, they will become interactive on the Web page, allowing visitors to follow the author, reply, retweet or favorite them without ever leaving the page.
– Listen to the conversation around your brand and aggregate the data;
– Create tools that increase the reach of your campaign;
– Display conversation relevant to your campaign.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business social networking hub. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has millions of users and is implemented in over 200 countries. LinkedIn actually provides 2 APIs:
The REST API provides a simple, consistent representation of people, companies, jobs, and the interactions and relationships between them. Query language lets you read data in XML and JSON at the granularity and aggregation that you choose.
The Pinterest API provides developers with access to an authenticated user’s pinboards and pins. The API provides detailed user data, as well as the home feed for a user, pins, likes, following, followers and the ability to unfollow. Developers can also access information about specific boards and pins, including creating boards, adding pins, categories and adding/removing likes. The API allows businesses to integrate with Pinterest’s social media platform in an effort engage with customers. With the APIs, developers can access a site’s top repins, most recent pins, related pins, most clicked through pins and pins resulting from specific search terms. The API makes its data available via JSON only, with requests also wrapped as JSON.
Google first started testing its API for the search engine in 2002, enabling up to 1,000 automated searches. It has since released numerous APIs relating to various areas such as Google Maps, Google Wallet, and the Chrome web browser. It might not have the reach of Facebook, but the Google+ API can be used to tap into the platform’s own social graph and to integrate features such as cross-device sign-on into your site or app.
Thought it may not have the name brand recognition of Facebook or Twitter, Google+ is still an incredibly useful social network in some circles. If you’re looking to tap into those clusters of users, you can integrate the Google+ API into your app or website, which allows users to connect with one another for “maximum engagement” and use Google+ features directly from your site or app.
As the API economy continues to grow, more and more companies look to open up their APIs in order to extend their own brand’s reach. The social media landscape is a fast-moving and constantly shifting one, but accessing the features of major platforms via their APIs is likely to continue to be a source of great opportunities, no matter what business you are in.
What do you think, should we expect the rise of new social network giants? Or would top most popular social networking sites stay unchanged? Have you already had the experience of using social networks’ APIs? Do you have any interesting ideas of API using in mind?
You are welcome to share your thoughts and experience with us.
Outsourcing of the part of work was thought to be the preserve of large multinationals. But not any longer. In fact even fledgling Start-Ups can benefit from outsourcing aspects of their business to a third party and it may be even more appealing due to the specifics of the stage and size that the start-up is currently in.
How to decide?
Few businesses are not reluctant to let any work leave the office in the beginning, being like control freaks. But what is soon realized is that behaving that way is actually taking time and competitive advantage away from business. The reasons for outsourcing for IT companies are multiple: to avoid random hire when inquiries are urgent, to show up a high quality level when the skills required are too specific or non-core, to provide a fuller range of services to loyal and long-term customers, to be lean and cut off some expenditures that crowd the company’s balance sheet, to stay internally focused on core functions like business and strategy development and communication with customers.
Where to draw the line?
Definitely, the key areas of control should be retained in-house to protect brand image or intellectual property and to keep up-to-strategy and quickly adoptive communication with customers, but as for software development outsourcing, with careful planning and management and good communication not only non-core aspects but virtually any development aspect can be sourced out.
Where to look for talents?
At the end of the day, that’s people who really matter. Nowadays using LinkedIn or other portals specific to your industry can indeed help you find proper people. Have you recently paid attention how many companies are now emphasize their company profiles in social networks, not web-sites? Probably the best talents are hanging around somewhere here too. Also tap into your network for word of mouth, or when contacting a potential outsourcing vendor ask for references, from your geo-region as well.
What to pay attention to while selecting team members?
To assess technical expertise ask for previous work examples, usually described in CV, run an interview with candidates and test-drive them with some quick test tasks. Also it makes sense to have a short trial period, of a reasonable time and paid one still with a possibility of quick cutting off of team member(s) if you’re not happy with them. As for communication skills, it encompasses broader than just level of English; enthusiasm and desire to express and explain the point are of important matter as well.
How to start working with a Dedicated Dev Team?
Start out small and build up gradually according to a pre-agreed schedule. This is mutually beneficial: you will have some time to feel the team’s work speed and abilities and pivot with team size and composition accordingly; at the same time you will also see how your internal project manager manages to distribute tasks to a remote team, if in the full volume necessary and on time. Also organizing a video conf-call with the team members is an efficient team-building step, and it is good to have such one in the beginning as a kick-off meeting as well throughout the cooperation.
Is strong management by the customer a must-have?
In order to keep your project lean and effective, be in regular communication and manage progress closely so you set specific goals and expectations along with realistic deadlines and get regular updates from the team. Decide on a point person to manage the work if you don’t cope with this yourself. Also you should absolutely provide feedback, whatsoever positive or negative, to your team, including but not limited to their work results and updates to the project/product strategy.
If an inquiry doesn’t look like to fit a standard dedicated development team (DDT) concept?
Not so long ago DDT model was considered a long-term, continuous, stiff cooperation approach. Still we are no longer in the era of neither large system projects prevalence nor large companies domination. Today’s reality dictates new standards for cooperation approaches. And outsourcing is adapting to newly arising demand specifics as well.
For instance, your request for DDT set up may be for a mixed team in terms of techs; or for combination of a dedicated core team and floating resources on a project need basis; or for permanent key team and highly specialized expert on a timely basis to resolve highly specific issues; or one-project-purpose DDT when dealing under fixed-price approach for the project is inconvenient. Also DDT can be formed quickly, even within 1-2 weeks, and can be or start as small as 1-3 team members. All these cooperation possibilities may be highly interesting for Start-ups.
And what’s your point about the potential of dedicated teams outsourcing for Start-up companies?
Social Media is a tool on the Internet. It is not a business. Like any tool, it can be used to enhance and promote an enterprise if you have a niche, a target market, a business plan and ambition. Let’s have a look at the preferences of LinkedIn community.
«I wanted to be flippant and say “all of them” but that’s not true and it wouldn’t be helpful. Pick the right tool (social media platform) for the job (communicating with people who might want to know) and you’ll have a better chance of reaching them. At this moment, my primary toolkit includes LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, my blogs, my mailing list, Facebook.» Erica Friedman,
Social Media Optimizer
«I pass the following experience on to others in the belief they may benefit from a similar approach:
In order to manage high volume of inquiries in federal government contracting, I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a web site ($10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name) containing the basics of entering and succeeding in the venue as well my books and articles on the subject for download via Box Net (also a free application). The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid repeating myself over and over to new business clients and still keep myself available for specific inquiries and problems. I linked everything together on “Linked In” and began answering questions at the “Answers” feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well.
The Adsense Feature added cash flow. Roughly 30% of my clients began coming via Linked In or Linked In related networking.
The result has been heavy traffic, good efficiency in supporting in excess of 4000 counseling cases over the last 5 years and virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for a non-profit organization.» Kenneth Larson,
MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds”
«I normally use Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Sometimes I also use Pinterest and Google+.
You shouldn’t just share your content on these social media, but also others content. If you want to build relationships and generate leads with social media, you need share others content more than you share your own content. Other social media you could use to share content are Stumble Upon and Tumblr. These two social media are getting really popular. » Mitt Ray,
CEO Social Marketing Writing
«It depends on your audience and the goals of the services/products that you intend to support.
I used Facebook as kind of a catch-all account because it has the most laid back aspects and it is where most people are. I use LinkedIn for the professional side and make sure that I have a business page. The personal page has done much more for me than my business page.
I have a blog to keep my name up front. And finally Twitter to support it all. Basically, anything I tweet posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.» Tom Brown,
Social Media Specialist
«I use a networked approach to share content. Each network has a different readership and I cater the phrasing of the posting and the type of content to what that group wants to hear. For example, sharing a quick link and a catchy title on Twitter reaches a wide array of businesses and if it gets re-shared I can reach a lot of people I don’t know yet. On Linkedin I tend to share only business information that would be of use to my clients or potential clients and I phrase it in a business friendly way. On Google+ there is an advantage in creating circles for very narrow niches and posting information specifically targeted to the people. On this network it’s even more important to share unique information, not re-sharing what everybody has already seen. On Facebook I share more fun stuff because it gets shared more and so it keeps my Edgerank up on my Facebook page. Most of my followers are in the same industry as I am (Social Media consulting) so it’s easy to add information there that is fun, yet relevant and we all share each other’s links.» Janet Fouts,
Social Media Coach
All in all primarily you shouldn’t think about which tools to use, but where your audience is. If they are on a mailing list, or a forum, you’d better go there. If they are on Twitter, or LinkedIn, you must be there. The point is to be where the people who might care about a topic are, just as the point of picking a tool in the hardware store is not which hammer is the best, but what task you need to do.
Market research firm IDC predicts a large number of transactions and purchases in 2012. This is due to the fact that companies want to increase their presence in cloud computing, social networking and online content. Among other IDC predicted past Thursday that Microsoft would buy Netflix to give it a stronghold in online video entertainment and LinkedIn to get into social networking.
The same prediction for a Microsoft-Netflix deal was made last year, but chief analyst Frank Gens said it makes even more sense now, given Netflix’s diminished market value and expected losses next year from growing content licensing bills.
“In 2012, part of Microsoft’s challenge is to counter what Apple and Amazon have done and what Google is building up – a really strong media and content marketplace,” Gens said. By offering movies, music and other content, Apple, Amazon and Google are aiding their mobile device ecosystems, including tablets and smartphones.
“Without a media and content cloud, the competitiveness of Microsoft’s mobile platforms could be greatly diminished,” Gens predicted.
The research firm also predicts that major information technology providers will make big “statement-type acquisitions” in social technologies. They’ll do these deals to show customers that they understand that social tech will be a big part of IT’s next growth platform.
Microsoft is likely buying LinkedIn and then acquiring a company like Taleo to enhance the social recruiting capabilities of the service.
A LinkedIn acquisition makes a good deal of sense. As Facebook shows, social networking has begun to replace search as the Internet’s dominant technology, and puts its tentacles into every part of people’s lives. People increasingly use it not just to find friends, but to find information, reviews, entertainment and more – everything that search used to do. It would be a way for Microsoft to do an end-around Google search.
Are you on Facebook? I’d like to know the quirks, issues and annoyances you deal with on this social network. Whether you use Facebook to connect with friends or to manage your company’s brands, chances are you’ve found the service lacking. It could be something inherent to the site (like confusing security controls), how your friends use it (to invite you to play FarmVille) or something the site doesn’t do at all but should (such as offer a dislike button). Bellow you may find LI members’ opinions about FaceBook’s lacks.
“Incessant invitations to join it. And these are invitations from people whose names I don’t recognize.” Martha Retallick
“1. Ads on the right column. I’ve installed a plug-in to hide them in my Safari 5
2. Ads…ops did I say ads twice? :-)” Artyom Diogtev
“I think Facebook is like any other application. It has its place alongside LinkedIn and Twitter for those wanting to use it. You need to learn the best ways to use it for yourself, be wary of intrusions on your privacy, and then enjoy its positive aspects (like finding people you’ve lost touch with and never expected to connect with again). To answer the question, games are my biggest pet peeve.” Pat Lovenhart (Tiliakos)
“What annoys me about facebook isn’t really “about facebook.” It’s more about the common situation of people who don’t realize the impact of what they post and talk about. Be smart, be careful.” Barb Muessig, APR
“The fact that I cannot control everything that I do there, to whom my info is shown (like posts, comments, etc.).” Sandra B.
“What annoy me are the advertisements & requests to play a game. You can see them on the right hand side of the screen; there are too many of them.” Daniel L.
“The only thing that gets me really about Facebook is all the applications that you have to be really careful of when it comes to privacy. Some of them can basically relay anything that you post to whoever they wish. I have minimal applications installed and have adapted the ones I do have installed to protect my privacy.” Simon Barrington
“Everything. It’s too public, too messy, too hard to find out how to use even the smallest feature, too everything!” Carol Smith
“As a recruiter, one of the things I like about LinkedIn is being able to look at who is looking at me. Facebook doesn’t have that capability. I’ll offer to connect with people here who I might have a mutual interest with. I can’t do that with Facebook.” Michelle Shemenske
Today there are hundreds of social networking sites (Friendster, imeem, Flickr, Myspace, Plaxo, Xanga, the list goes on) that are connecting people with different background, interests, hobbies and professions around the world.
The three major sites that are in the forefront are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What, you may ask, is the difference between the three? Which one will be the most beneficial for business? Depending on you or your company’s goals and objectives, you will hopefully have a clearer perspective of which service best fits your business.
Bellow you may find a sort of an overview of the basic differences between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Sales Trainer & Sales Mentor at Sean Patrick,
Sales Director at Global VIsual Solutions Ltd:
“Facebook is good for brand awareness and building, twitter is a micro blog and can be hard to target your niche and linkedin does a lot more than both facebook and twitter and is taken a lot more seriously.”
Virtual Assistant for Business Professionals:
“It all depends what you mean by business purposes. Do you mean you want to use a social network to increase revenues, increase subscriptions to an email newsletter etc. In my opinion, each serves different benefits for businesses. Twitter for instance is uniquely positioned as being a popular real-time social network. This means that if you want to promote a product on a limited time period, it would be more suitable to use Twitter to reach an audience quickly.
Facebook on the other hand is more so about the brand awareness. Therefore it would be better suited towards long-term gains in website traffic, RSS subscribers and email newsletter subscriptions. LinkedIn is definitely more suited for connecting business professionals together who may wish to do joint ventures. Again, each network really will only work when you’ve distinguished and set goals on what you want to achieve for your business.”
Robert Burns, II
Public Relations & Social Media Specialist ♦ Writing Specialist:
“A large part of social media effectiveness, especially for business purposes, depends on where your AUDIENCE is. The answer to your question can and will vary drastically, based on the product or service each business offers, their current clientele, potential clientele, and short/long-term goals. I do not believe there is a best; it simply depends. A strong social media strategy will efficiently and effectively make use of more than one (but not too many; two or three is plenty) social media platforms, cross-linking between them and keeping a consistent brand for all of them.
FACEBOOK: It’s hard to argue with 400+ million regular users. Right now, they’ve got the numbers, and their users are engaged. I recommend every professional have a FB.
TWITTER: Growing fast, more useful if you can consistently post new, relevant content, ask relevant questions, and engage Tweeters. Good as well.
LINKEDIN: This platform captures the professional demographic that is not quite seen in such force on Twitter or Facebook. Both of those sites have them, but this site is DEDICATED to it, and there are a lot less frivolous status comments about “what people had for breakfast” and what have you.
As you can see, there are upsides (and downsides) to each one. It all depends on your business, audience, and ultimate purpose.”
Peter B. Giblett CITP, LLB
Business Strategist-Speaker-Author (Social Media & IT):
“All have their advantages and disadvantages. Starting with LinkedIn it is not possible to use it to build a corporate brand – all interaction has to be personal and promotional activity is not allowed. Any contribution made would have to be purely personal, although there is nothing stopping a person from using clever wording in a forum such as Answers to build brand awareness. Twitter possibly offers the best business capability. It is possible to have an account in the name of the business, and to promote your brand directly. However too much of this and you are likely to lose credibility and followers. With Facebook it is possible to build a business fan page which can act as a centre of attention for people interested in the brand and its activities. In all cases it is best to focus on the needs of your followers in building the brand image – e.g. become the industry expert rather than purely promoting your own products. Social media is a place to demonstrate expertise rather than to advertise.”
Employment Solicitor at Webster Dixon LLP:
“LinkedIn is my preference for business use. Facebook is too social (my teenage daughter is addicted to it, and I think it is really aimed at that market, not for professionals). Twitter – well I just don’t have time to narrate my life, and nobody would be that interested in it anyway!”
What do you think? What concerns do you have about which social networks to join?