OK, seriously, people...Since I got a laptop and ditched the family computer, I have become engrossed with all of the new ways to connect and build community online. I hate to say it, but I am addicted to social networking and social network marketing.
Sites like Facebook and MySpace are usually the first things that come to mind when people think about social networks. But, as I have discovered, there are so many more. One of my new favorites is Twitter. It is a "microblog" that asks you to answer the question "what are you doing?". I know, this sounds odd...and it did to me, too...until I started "tweeting" regularly.
I found a group of gardening folks, started "following" them, and now I get updates about who is planting what, what kind of weather is happening, who is having pest problems, etc...This format is particularly great for gardeners...it allows us to be connected to a community, with little time investment...and everyone knows that is important during growing season. I particularly like to follow Kate Smudges...she has a wonderful way of writing...
I am also excited about sites like Stumble Upon, Reddit and Digg. These are sites that allow you to identify cool posts, pages, sites,etc, review them and post them to a publicly viewed page. For those of us who have businesses attached to our blogs, or if you are trying to build readership, these sites are great ways to get the word out there. They are generally easy to use, and (this is big) they are fun! I particularly like the feature on Stumble Upon where you click a button and go to one of the higher rated sites...it lets you "stumble" around the net, randomly unearthing cool sites.
Finally, my most used site is Flickr. I post all of my pictures here. I am able to share photos with friends and family and also easily upload them to my blogs and other sites. A certain amount of storage is free, but I use the paid membership version. It essentially gives me unlimited storage and other options, like on line photo editing.
Believe me, this is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other ways to connect. These social networks are built around all kinds of themes, bookmarks, photos, even gardening (find me at Gardener to Farmer on Blotanical and MyFolia). There are also blogs that have their own social networks on site. Amazing...and just in case this seems too overwhelming to follow, there is a site that collects all of your sites... Friend Feed is a great place to keep tabs on your friends...and your teen aged daughter who just got a laptop...no more searching for all of her, I mean, your, postings...this aggregator has it all in one place. Check me out at http://friendfeed.com/jeanannvk.
And what I like the most about social networking and social network marketing, and really all emarketing, is accessibility. In a way, the internet has become the great equalizer. We have the opportunity to reach readers just as effectively as the big guys. We only need an internet connection and a computer (now found at local libraries) and we are ready to take on the world.
Do you use any of these networking sites? Do you use others? Are there some I should join? Let me know!