Social networking as a marketing tool

Many people use social networking site such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook as ways to market their independent product or service. Bands and artists have long used this method. Companies and other businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and have gotten pages on these sites as well. It has become a regular part of the marketing landscape.

Social networking as a marketing tool takes advantage of developing an ever expanding number of “friends,” real friends, loved ones and associates. When you “friend” someone on Facebook, anything you post to your status automatically shows up on their home page to be read. If you “friend” hundreds or thousands of people, they all are aware of what you are posting as soon as they get onto Facebook. If they want, they can comment on your status directly, post something on your Wall or they can email you.

Twitter gives a constant running commentary of the messages, or “tweets” from a list of authors you wish to read. You can also have your tweets sent out into the open domain. To trade messages with friends, you have to put each other on your author list. However, it has been shown that 40 percent of the people who open a Twitter account close it after one month, so it is not a way that most choose to stay in touch.

MySpace works similarly to Facebook in that you “friend” a group of people and are kept up to date on their happenings. MySpace is not as popular as Facebook, though it did start the social networking trend and you can’t have a band if you don’t have a MySpace page.

Regardless of which site you use, you have to give your email address and other personal information to register on the site, which the sites view as proprietary information and are free to sell. Plus, employers, debt collector, IRS agents and others search your social networking accounts for information on you to use for hiring decisions and to make their cases against you.

Services such as GenieVOX offer a safe option for social networking that lets those you wish to have more contact with be able to reach you, but keeps your private information safe. The service gives you a private toll-free number with a message center that is attached to a home or cell phone. You can send messages to an unlimited number of people anywhere in the world and receive text messages and voice messages of up to 3 minutes long via your phone, text messaging or email. You can also place a GenieMessenger on your email or social networking site that lets someone send a message directly to you without having your cell phone or email address. This can help safeguard your privacy, as well as your personal information.

Finding and staying in touch with friends and loved ones, especially those who are far away, is important, but it is not worth sacrificing your privacy and security for. Use the sites to help you connect, but take advantage of modern technology to protect you and your confidentiality.