Social Networking Homework Assignment

COmposition Notebook - Homework Asisignment

This week I was given an assignment at work: Perform a competitive evaluation of social/professional networking sites that do a great job of converting their users into usable leads that can then be resold.

At first glance this might sound like a boring homework assignment. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Social networking has taken over the web. I myself have been an active member at Facebook and LinkedIn for some time. But there are so many sites out there…way too many for a guy like me with a full time job, two kids under the age of five, half a dozen projects at home and two or three contract assignments that need my attention.

This project has opened my eyes to several sweet new web-based programs:

Stumble Upon Toolbar Short

One of the first tools I came across on my pilgrimage to social la la land. This toolbar downloads to your web browser and is really quite simple in nature. The basics behind the program include:

  1. Hitting the “Stumble” button (seen on the toolbar above), which randomly takes you to a web site based on your interests (snowboarding, gardening, humor, etc.).
  2. Giving a thumbs up or thumbs down on the sites you come across
  3. Sharing sites with friends (you invite people to become your “Friend” much like on Facebook or MySpace) which allows you to see the pages they like/dislike and vice versa.

Now, from a pure consumer standpoint—I have to say—this site is pretty addicting. I mean, it’s like The Wheel of Fortune meets Goggle. Just click the button and WOOSH…you’re swept to a site that is (relatively speaking) pretty close to something I care about or think funny. In a million years (not that I have that long…unless God has the Internet in heaven) I would never sit down and randomly surf the web for stuff I like. I just don’t have the time for it. But I do enjoy it when others send me cool sites they like. Stumble Upon is great for poking around the web and finding stuff to share with others.

From a business standpoint there’s a ton of potential for helping give your own web sites a boost. Such as…

Increasing Site Traffic

Simply visit your sites and click on the button that looks like a word cloud. This takes you to a place where people have given your site a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Have none? Then it’s time to go to work. Here are a couple ways to get started:

  • Email everyone in your company or group and have them join Stumble Upon (warn them first that it’s as addicting as starting a season of 24 on DVD…they’ll never want to stop clicking the stumble button) and then have them give an “I like it!” thumbs up rating to your site. Have them also post a comment as to why they like it. This will do a couple things. First, it will show the internet world that people actually care enough about your site to post a comment as to why they like it (no comments = thinking like, “this site is of no value, boring, or just plain stupid”). Secondly, it counteracts any negative feedback that might have been left by others. And lastly, it helps bump your site on the list of sites that get shown when people click on their “Stumble” button.
  • Run a contest in your company to see how many people they can get to comment on your sites using Stumble Upon.
  • Open a contest for your audience to post on your sites. The best site posting wins a free iPod or a free Hummer or whatever you can afford. This will get eyeballs back on your site for a reason, it will also help you gather customer testimonials and it will help your rankings improve on Stumble Upon. you’ll have to express to your customers that you’ll notify the winner via a Stumble Upon message…after all most aren’t going to have their name and address on their post.

Gathering Testimonials

One of the best marketing tools a company can lean on are the true words of reference their customers give. I may think you have a cool product, but I want to confirm that with a real (non-paid) person that’s used your product or service. Stumble Upon naturally helps you gather client testimonials.

Get “With It”

Let’s face it…the web moves quick. It’s not easy to stay up to date on all there is to offer. Remember how cool Cold Fusion was? What was cool six months ago and hitting the #1 search in Google will be down the list and out of date faster than Michael Phelps in the 200 IM. Stumble Upon can help you garner some “coolness” credibility as you lean on their brand (or the brands of other social networking giants like Facebook or MySpace) to position your own.

Add This

Add This

Too many social networking programs, not enough time. “Add This” is a simple bookmarking and sharing button that you can embed in your sites. No more upgrading your bookmarks when another social networking site comes around. Simply sign up at, copy the pre-populated script and drop it into your site. It’s fast, easy to use, and even provides tracking on their site.

There are several button options to choose from:

  Bookmark and Share Bookmark and Share
  Bookmark and Share Bookmark and Share
  Bookmark and Share Bookmark and Share

My week has just begun and I’m already swirling with new ideas – some related to social networking…some related to basic web usage (we really need to create a best practice in our company for adding widgets and gadgets to places like iGoogle that allow people to drop in our top articles in the space they choose to live in.)

Enough on my social networking tirade…I’m off to get this idea converted into a b-to-b audience enhancer and corporate money maker.


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2 Responses to “Social Networking Homework Assignment”

  1. AlexM Says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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