Social Media – for friendship or business marketing?

Those of you who start, spend and end their day on social networks, use it for online business opportunities and take pride in their rapidly widening virtual friend/follower-circle, am sure you haven’t missed two ‘gasp, choke and splutter’ events related to social media, that each of the past two weeks brought.

First, popular TV host Jimmy Kimmel berated Facebook for ‘cheapening Friendship’ and called for a National Unfriend Day to be observed on November 17, to cut out the FB ‘friend fat’. Then earlier this week, ‘Path’ a ‘Personal Network’ that ‘allows you to be yourself’ launched as a photo sharing application on Apple I Phone and placed a boundary on the number of virtual friends one can have, and limits it to 50.

After a few mental garbled arguments on the proposed ‘unfriending’ and Path’s and came up with six ‘I agree’ and ‘I disagree’ aspects of social networks.

  • ‘Friends’ for friends sake?

I agree with Kimmel when he says why be friends with someone whom you wouldn’t loan $50? Facebook may give you a chance to connect with friends, family, colleagues and others from across the world, but if you sit back and think after clicking ‘Accept’ to a friend request, how many of those accepted friends do you interact with on a weekly or monthly if not on a daily basis?

  • What ‘end’ is FB a means to?

What started out as a social networking website has now become an avenue for brand promotion and a preferred avenue for small business advertising. ‘Friends’ or ‘Followers’ have become FB/Twitter synonyms for ‘clients’ or ‘customers’. When social networks blur the line between professional and personal, where do you go for that sacred ‘personal space’? Path, answers that question.

I hope am not being overly critical of social networks as I have used them to find both; long-lost friends as well as online business opportunities.

  • A steadily increasing, relevant database

No more ‘headless chicken’ panic when you need to contact your clients or employees. You have all your contacts on your social profile and all you need to do for communicating a message is post it on your wall or tweet about it. Social networks are ideal small business resources that can help you keep in touch with existing clients and even trace and contact potential clients through them. Brand promotion has never been easier.

  • A rich Information base

You may not interact with each of your ‘friends’ on a daily basis and can also filter out seemingly irrelevant info about their personal lives when it doesn’t matter. However you never know when a ‘friend’ you haven’t kept in touch with, (except through FB for example) may post an important bit of information useful to you. Forewarned is forearmed isn’t it?

  • Cheapens friendship or strengthens communication?

What Kimmel says is true – you can only really have, know more than a dozen real friends at one time. In real life you have different sets of friends that don’t fit into the ‘real’ category – there office friends, travel buddies, friends who are the parents of your children’s friends, friends made on a cruise or a seminar, friends from the neighborhood you grew up in and friends in the neighborhood you got married into. So why should you have only ‘real’ – ‘I can loan $50 to’ friends on social networks when you can keep in touch with them in addition to all those friends from all the other categories?

So here’s what I feel. Social networks are successful especially because of the freedom they offer. So, if you have the right reasons, you can guiltlessly boast about having 1000 ‘friends’ regardless of what Kimmel says.

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