Social Networking Heating Up

I’m VERY impressed with an article in Business Week Online about a new social networking site for businesses, called Visible Path. 

Most of you are familiar with, or have a least heard of, social-networking
sites such as MySpace or FaceBook.  They are set up for individuals to
connect and socialize online. 

There are also some networking
places – like LinkedIn and Ecademy – where business owners can meet and
greet.  But the proponents of Visible Path aim to take social
networking for businesses to another level.  Here’s a snippet from the
article:

Visible Path looks different from other
social-networking sites. Users don’t create home pages or profiles on
Visible Path. The site instead keeps tabs on whom its users communicate
with by e-mail or through other means. And it ranks the strength of
those relationships based on how often people communicate. Then it
helps users find common sources and contacts so they can approach one
another to do business.
MULTIPLE PATHS.  Here’s an example of how
the site works: Let’s say a salesperson at company A wants to contact
the chief information officer at company B. The suitor could make a
cold call, but that’s not a very good way to get through the front
door. Visible Path would let the salesperson seek a colleague or
business associate who has a connection to the CIO. He or she may find
multiple “paths,” in fact. The site also will compile publicly
available research on the CIO, tapping resources such as Google or
Hoovers.

4WebResults has been working with BMC.com on some social computing-related
projects. They are not as large-scale or comprehensive as MySpace (or
this new start-up). However, the BMC.com social computing projects are
oriented toward building communities of people who share common
interests and want to contribute their knowledge and insights about
shared topics. The experiment of incorporating direct social
interaction with the community is just getting going at www.dbazine.com; however, the traffic increased dramatically after we simply added blogs and RSS feeds. 

But
social networking isn’t about blogs and RSS; it’s about people. It’s
about getting the technology out of the way so it’s easy for people to
gather and contribute their expertise in common areas of interest and
to connect with others who can help them. These are like huge “trust”
pools where people with shared interests can interact with each other
and gain from the interaction. It’s not about cramming more advertising
or consumption into the website; those things come from the members’
interactions with each other.

Here’s the point from an SEO
persective: When users create and share content  in specific areas,
they also have an opportunity to be more visible in the search engines.
That’s a usable, productive, social computing tool. This new movement
is more empowering than posting anonymously on a forum, as it allows
everyone to blog, publish, share and interact in a more sophisticated
manner.

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