Monday, April 14, 2008

What Social Networks Accomplish

In a recent email, my uncle stated that he was unsure exactly what social networks accomplished.

While this is a much larger debate, here are a few ideas on why I believe these networks are valuable. Feel free to agree, disagree or share your own ideas:

Data Portability
Have you ever changed mobiles or computers, and lost contact information in the process? A significant advantage of social networks, both personal and business, is data portability. By maintaining your information via the web, you reap the benefit of centralized platform accessible from anywhere.

Reasons to Connect
In both business and personal settings, almost all social networks provide updates on your contacts activities. When someone makes changes to their profile, makes a new connection, even asks or a question, you will be alerted. This automated intelligence can be help provide legitimate reasons to reach out to any given contact.

User Generated Intelligence
In a few simple clicks through a profile in your network, you can learn about your connections work history, who you know in common, where they went to school, what level of degree they have, their accomplishments, and on and on. What's more, this data is updated by them - not a third party.

As adoption of any network becomes more wide-spread, the overall value increases. As your own personal network grows, you'll see an increase in the data and opportunities that are delivered.

On the flip side of that, without some type of control system in place, network value can also be lost. MySpace is a good case study to follow on that. I guess it's just human nature to create pandemonium if we're left with no rules.

For a fairly comprehensive list the social networks, click here.

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