Putting Public Social Networks To Work For Business

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Companies are exploiting public social networking sites for valid business purposes. However, a lack of enterprise-class controls makes management of users akin to herding cats. By adopting strong policies for business use of public social networks, small and midsize businesses can maximize value and safeguard against inappropriate connections between personal and business contacts.

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Putting Public Social Networks To Work For Business

  1. 1. Putting Public Social Networks To Work For Business
  2. 2. <ul><li>Companies are exploiting public social networking sites for valid business purposes. However, a lack of enterprise-class controls makes management of users akin to herding cats. By adopting strong policies for business use of public social networks, small and midsize businesses can maximize value and safeguard against inappropriate connections between personal and business contacts. </li></ul><ul><li>External public social networking services, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Friendster, can be valuable sales, marketing, and support tools. These services comprise extensive networks of users who are self-organized into groups and communities. Users establish connections directly with other users to form a personal friends network. Users also join groups and communities that are organized around attributes such as products, lifestyles, entertainment, institutions, politics, and geographic locations.  The key difference between social networks and more traditional online communities is the friend-of-a-friend (FOAF) trust model that exists in social networks. Users maintain direct connections to their friends, but they also have some level of access to the direct connections their friends maintain to other people. The FOAF model enables users to interact with network users to whom they are not otherwise directly connected. Users can establish different rules of engagement for different types of connections in their network; the closer the connection to a user in terms of degrees of separation, the more trusted that user is. For example, privacy settings can be made more stringent for a FOAF than privacy settings for a directly connected friend.  </li></ul>
  3. 3. Making Business Friends <ul><li>The FOAF trust model that interconnects members of a social network enables users to define different rules for sharing information for different levels of connections.  However, this same trust model allows such a network to be leveraged for business purposes beyond the capabilities of a traditional online community by connecting through one group of users to get to another group. Social network users also build their own extensive demographic profiles by connecting to dozens or hundreds of affinity groups, not just connecting to other users. This self-segmentation phenomenon is why social networks present marketers and advertisers with such a potentially lucrative audience for promoting goods and services.  </li></ul><ul><li>There are several ways an organization can benefit from using public social networks, including: </li></ul><ul><li>HR recruiting </li></ul><ul><li>Product marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Services outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Promotional applications </li></ul><ul><li>Market intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Professional networking </li></ul>
  4. 4. When Friends Of Friends Become Foes <ul><li>Despite the potential business benefits of leveraging public social networks, there are two major areas of risk to businesses:  Risk of connecting personal contacts to business contacts by using personal user IDs.  By the very nature of a FOAF network, users are exposed to a certain amount of information concerning friends of their friends. While this is the key mechanism behind social networking value, it can also create an inappropriate conduit for information to pass between personal contacts and business contacts. While social networking sites do provide users with some privacy settings, these settings are insufficient to establish a barrier between personal activities and business activities when a single user ID is used for both personal and business purposes.  </li></ul><ul><li>Risk of inappropriately connecting business contacts to each other.  Many business relationships are private relationships between customer and supplier or between business partners. If there is no value in connecting your customers to each other or connecting your partners to each other, then using public social networking sites is not recommended. Private social networks offer more privacy and discretion, but private social networks must be built from the ground up to establish a critical mass of network users. They do not come with a ready-made network of users like public social networks do. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Key Considerations <ul><li>Public social networks can add business value in some instances. Careful analysis of target customer segments, segment-specific goals, and social network user demographics must be conducted before adopting these networks for business purposes.  </li></ul><ul><li>Public social networks do not offer enterprise-class administrative controls. Tools to establish barriers between personal and private networks and tools to centrally manage user accounts do not exist. Info-Tech predicts that public social networking vendors won't add these controls because there's no clear way for them to monetize such an investment. Instead, vendors are likely to defer development of such tools to partners.  </li></ul><ul><li>Public social networks are the new portals of the Internet and company pages are the new Internet domain names. Millions of Internet users now start their browsers in one of the popular social networks and spend an enormous amount of time on these sites. They use them to search for information, communicate with friends (both real-time and asynchronous messaging), and blog and share content (photos, videos). Having a corporate presence, even as a simple collection of links to existing corporate Web properties, is recommended for any company that publicly promotes its products, services, and brands.  </li></ul>
  6. 6. 3 Steps To Implementation & Integration <ul><li>When the organization has identified valid business reasons to use public social networks, the business should follow these implementation recommendations:  Step:  Separate employee use of public social networks for personal purposes from official employee use of these networks for business purposes. Official use of these sites for business should be conducted with a user ID created for approved business purposes, using the employee's corporate e-mail address. An employee's personal user ID for public social networks should never be used for approved business purposes. Failure to follow this recommended separation can lead to inappropriate overlap of personal and professional networks, allowing the transmission of inappropriate content from a personal friend's network to a customer or partner network.  Step:  Establish guidelines for user profile privacy settings on social networks aimed at consumers (Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster). Public social networks allow users to limit access to their information to different levels in their friends network, such as direct friends or friends of friends. Employees should be trained only to allow access to information by direct friends unless the business need has been identified for enabling FOAF access. Each social network enables privacy settings differently, so network-specific guidelines should be created for each network the business approves for use. By default, professional business social network LinkedIn limits access to private information to direct connections already.  Step:  Prohibit installation of additional applications from the social network platform's application partners. By default, platform applications access a user's friends network and may even attempt to access a user's e-mail address directory (e.g. Outlook or Windows address books). Employees must be trained on the dangers of exposing a business contact network to a third-party application.  </li></ul>
  7. 7. 3 More Steps To Implementation & Integration <ul><li>When the organization has identified valid business reasons to use public social networks, the business should follow these implementation recommendations:  Step:  Join groups and subnetworks with care. Similar to installing third-party network applications, joining some groups and subnetworks within a public social network can reset privacy settings to allow every other member of the group or subnetwork to have access to your network. For professional sites like LinkedIn, this is usually the desired outcome of joining groups and subnetworks. However, for consumer social networks like Facebook, this can create an inappropriate conduit between business and personal networks. For example, joining a college alumni network on Facebook allows every other member of that alumni network to access your posts and see members of your network. If you are both an alumnus and a recruiter, then this may be the desired outcome. But if a business user uses a corporate account to join an alumni network for personal reasons, this will result in every user in that alumni network being exposed to the business network maintained by that corporate account.  Step:  Treat personal use of public social networks by employees, on company time, as a standard acceptable use issue. Personal use of public social networking sites on company time is no different than use of other company IT resources for personal use, such as e-mail, instant messaging, telephones, and Web browsing. Use of public social network user accounts in the workplace, for entirely personal reasons, should not be associated with the risks identified in this research note concerning mixing personal and valid business uses of public social networks. If the organization decides to ban personal use of public social networks on company time, then simply extend existing IT acceptable use policies to include personal usage of such social networks. For help in drafting such a policy, refer to the Info-Tech Advisor template, &quot; Internet Acceptable Use Policy .&quot;  Step:  Treat personal use of public social networks by employees outside the workplace as a standard human resources employee conduct issue. When employees identify the company they work for in their personal public social network profiles and then post information that the company believes is damaging to the business, the company's human resources department should address the issue as it would any other issue of conduct outside the workplace. This is an HR issue, not an IT issue.  </li></ul>
  8. 8. THANKS & REGARDS PARSHANT SHARMA <ul><li>http:// earnparttimejobs.com/index.php?id=1441551 </li></ul>

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