Skip to content

The Basics of Social Networking

Today’s Guest Blogger is Karla, who blogs at Looking Towards Heaven, where you can find her writing
about the chaos and joy of life with four children. She can also be
found at Fruition Designs, where she designs mommy cards, blogs and
announcements, and at Blissfully Domestic, where she is the managing

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post outlining some tools for using Twitter more efficiently.

That post stirred a bit of debate about the usefulness (or lack thereof, as
some argued) of social networking tools on the web.

Social Networking is something that you already do. Any gathering of people
is a social network. Online, the premise is no different: gather some people
together, find common interests and go at it.

How you go at it, or what you go at, is up to you. But do not be deceived –
social networking is an excellent way to expand your web presence and glean

And if Facebook
and MySpace are all
that come to mind when you think of social networking, then think again.

Personally, I’ve never gotten into either of those. I just didn’t understand
them or, more accurately, take the time to. I set up a Facebook account, but it
has been languishing in the depths of some internet void since I signed up.
Frankly it overwhelmed me.

And the entire social networking experience can be overwhelming if you don’t
take it in small strides. Don’t rush around signing up for every networking site
out there. If you eventually do, that’s up to you. But to start, try picking one
or two and try them out. Don’t just sign up and expect it to all fall into place
either. There is an active role your must take to make them relevant. Hence the
social part of social networking.

For instance:

You can follow 1200 people on Twitter, and unless you jump in and participate
in the discussions, you’ve gained nothing from having those 1200 people at your

StumbleUpon is of no use if you don’t download
the toolbar
. Part of the interaction comes from clicking that
Stumble! button in the toolbar and finding sites that other people with
your same likes have discovered.

Let’s consider some of the benefits to online Social Networking:

They have been used to help people find places to live, roommates,
reconnect with old friends.

But it’s not just for those obvious issues. One of the new and exciting
things I’ve come to love about online networking is the ability to shoot
a question out there and quickly find answers. Researching something? Ask your
network. Need to gather a quick snapshot of opinions? Ask your

Some of the social network sites, like Twitter and Plurk, are basically worldwide conversations, that offer
instantaneous results. Others, like digg, StumbleUpon, and Kirtsy are more passive – you indirectly interact with each
other through checking out each others likes and dislikes (these are also
referred to as Social Bookmarking sites
). Even Flickr has groups that
connect people with common interests – from knitting to strange hair.

And when you really get the hang of social networking, there is even a
browser, {Flock}, for it.

There will always be people who don’t understand the appeal of online
networking. Some people may even be afraid it will take over their lives or that
it is only for teens and coed. It’s not for everyone.

But for those of us who use the computer for research, and work, it can be an
invaluable tool.

And, I’m willing to admit, a wonderful distraction.

{If you’d like to dip your feet into the Social Networking pool, or
already have, feel free to add me on
Twitter and StumbleUpon)

7 thoughts on “The Basics of Social Networking”

  1. I use Twitter and facebook often but I need to brush up on Stumblupon. I do not have the toolbar loaded and I need to do that.

  2. I do find that it is easy to want to jump aboard everything and then I am overwhelemed trying to figure it all out and then keep up with it. I do have a facebook account, but only really go there is I need something to do which would be about…hmmm…NEVER. Now twitter. Totally addicted! I like meeting new people and I like that no matter when I get on the computer there is somebody around for me to talk to. Love it.

Comments are closed.