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DISSERTATION

Course: DMP (BA) 2009-10 Tutor: G.Lee

Student: Yago Mateos

An investigation into Social Networking and it’s affect on online business.

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Conclusion Pages 11. 12 7.7 4. 9 5.0 – Abstract Page 3 2.Index 1.0 .Introduction Page 3 3.0 -Acknowledgments Page 14 9. 16 2 .0 -Bibliography Pages 13.2 Discussion Pages 9.5. 4.0 .1 – Analysis of findings Pages 8.0 .6. 10. 14 8. 11 6. 8 5.Literature Review Pages. 9 5.0 .0 – Findings and Discussion Pages 8. 15.Methodology Pages.0-Appendix Pages 14. 7.

Online businesses can make use of updates. the increased maximum is not known)’ (at&t. The very reason that social networking sites are so popular can be explained by human nature and our need to feel a part of a group.0 . This way the companies will not only know how to approach the groups but also will be able to create better products that the target markets actually want and will find useful. the Identity of people using social networks and Social networking as a useful tool. 2. This is also an aspect that online businesses are focusing much of their attention to as from here. Online businesses will have to address this problem. p119). This could indicate that that the future attitudes and the way that we judge others will have to change or it could simply be a case of greater control on what we allow to be published to social networking sites.0. They are valuable to online businesses as they a completely free and also quick and easy to use. All of these categories correspond to each other and a survey has been made to discuss the analysis of the data between varying opinions. what online services are reliable. they can learn from their target markets. p2) 3 .Abstract An investigation into how social networking affects businesses has been discussed within several categories: The erosion of the boundaries between personal and professional with social networking. for many this may also mean that they are open to harsh subjective judgement on personal matters. Opening up one’s personal life to the professional realm can be problematic as whilst it can demonstrate that you are genuine. However.Introduction Social media networking sites are a great place to meet people and let them know who you are and what you do. Social networking is a fantastic tool with many further useful tools under its wing. Social networking can be valuable to help users to make these decisions. taking this approach must be carefully handled as the hard-sell approach is not appropriate in a social space. according to some research. preferences and dislikes are.1. There is safety in numbers and on the internet it can sometimes be very daunting as to what information to trust. The sheer quantity of people that you can be connected to and communicate with at any one time is immense ‘Electronic tools can increase the number of active connections each person can maintain (human limit is around 150 stable relationships. The accessibility of communication and the ease at which we can express ourselves online now is as never before. In order to successfully promote yourself and your online business it is now necessary to have a personal approach and in doing this you are open to being assessed personally and be open about what many from generation X and from previous generations have enjoyed as being private (Qualman. which products are good. The dialogue will offer ideas on how social networking is useful for an online business. more accessible communication and the creation of groups. how privacy of professionals might be compromised and the opinion of the public. 2008. 2009. (who will have gathered into their specific categories and groups naturally) what their needs.

(2008) proposed the question on LinkedIn ‘The End of Privacy?’ there was a surprising variety of responses to his question.. (Power. & Power. (2010) positively recommend opening yourself and your private life so that people can judge the ‘whole you’ as this will help people trust you in business. (2010) had... where you go on holiday. & Power. Another factor which might explain the success of social networking sites is human nature itself. P.Literature Review As discussed by Power. For research it would be interesting to survey the views of Facebook users who often reveal much about their private lives.. You know what all these things do? Make it harder to get a job because your employer can now look at your credit rating.3. you were ill. T. . Unfortunately maintaining privacy is increasingly becoming harder to achieve. T.. J (2008): Your business failed. People will work with you because they like and trust you.. blurring identities. to find out their views on blurring the distinctions between personal and private. they will talk about you if you are reliable. skills and the way you make your money.Your business is about you. your company laid you off in lean times. 2010) Power. you got a divorce. T. P.. you were financially taken advantage of. Qualman.0 . Thomas. your friendship and your ability to be part of a community. In a world of internationalisation and the fact that today.. It is about why you like what you do. it actually worsens the small mistake you made in the first place. P. society has become a melting pot of cultures and religions. Qualman (2009) warned of this as he describes this as the ‘Death of Social Schizophrenia’ [the term Schizophrenia used here to describe the idea of dual personas]. P. nor has he really discussed the more positive side of blurring professional and private as Power. It is our very human nature however to be tribal. Therefore. whilst touching on the question of blurring the personal and professional realm he hasn’t examined this phenomena into as great a depth as it really deserves.. As 4 . It is also about the journey you have had in life that has enabled you to be the expert you are.. Power. due to travel and the internet. & Power. others fear the loss of privacy for reasons as described by Thomas. T. not just your knowledge. (2010) who promote merging the private and the professional as a great way of getting people to like you and then in turn to follow you and your business on the social networking site Twitter: Who you are encompasses the whole you.. to have a specific identity or group to distinguish ourselves from others and feel a part of something.. J. It is about things that matter to you – your family. Unfortunately letting go of having a private personal life is not something that everyone is necessarily comfortable with. which causes you support. caring and help others. it appears that there is a rich debate about privacy and strong feelings about the subject varying from people claiming that society can’t be secure if people maintain their privacy. your values. This is about your integrity. but it does seem that not having a ‘private’ life is becoming more inevitable due to the fact that there is so much information about us easily accessible to anyone.

which will in hand help the online business strengthen and thrive. Instead of creating a blog and then trying to promote it. territorial. Additionally it would also be interesting to see whether they are active members of that group i. national.0 are governing all new developments in the field of digital media. 2007) Social Networking and Web 2. As described above. webcasts and webinars. ‘In such a world of uncontrolled. folksonomy and wikis. 2008. This may also be beneficial to online businesses as it breaks down the masses into more easily comprehensible entities with their own distinct rules of conduct/religions/preferences. syndication. interactive ads. companies have tuned into this and in many cases now . as people like to express themselves and their identity. ethnic. cameras etc are all affected by it and have to develop with them in mind in order to make maximum use of all: ‘A whole bunch of new tools is on tap. confusing change. blogs. and the more popular ones are used regularly by hundreds of thousands of people each day-not a bad marketing tool that costs nothing to launch and is easy to create’(Meerman Scott. Hardware such as mobile phones.000 applications available on Facebook. they are free to use. simple statement about the inevitable evolution of corporate communication needs much more complex thought regarding “how” to implement these new types of communication.if you purchase something online like a game on the PlayStation Store. thus making it more simple to find your target markets and understand their concerns and needs.3 describes it. businesses will have to make the decision as to whether they are to keep up with the changing trends in communication and use them to their full capacities to benefit from them. practical tools for an online business. applets and widgets. mashups. virtual world events.’ (at&t. ‘There are currently some 10. you can give the company permission to publish this to your news feed so that your pears know what you have just purchased. and might they in the future? Social Networking sites make very useful. 5 . people tend to group around primary identities: religious. If you then decide the game is not very good for some reason this gives the manufacturer a chance to improve the product ‘If the manufacturer’s marketing team is listening and watching. have they ever posted information to the group or expressed their opinion to the other members. moreover.’ Social networking sites cater to this. reputation systems (bookmarking and rating). and there are huge quantities of people using them.. Have they posted recommendations to their friends. including Social Networking. allowing people to create interest groups. they will be able to quickly share this with the design and production team and hopefully get a quick resolution/improvement for future buyers. rich media such as geo-localization. p4) Social networking is the master tool that brings together all of these subordinate tools as it is the space where online communities dwell and make use of these facilities. Your piers can then ask you your opinion of the game to gain a recommendation from you.Castells (1996) p. There are many ways in which they can be utilised. walkmans.’ Qualman (2009) p92 It would be interesting to do a survey to find out why people join interest groups. Further to this.e. Now. it is already there.

” said Allison Bahm of Response Mine Interactive Agency’ (Qualman. Social networking is a wonderful way of keeping in touch with people as it is so simple and has a more open feel to it than an email. Now it is much easier to see information or news that has been recently posted. it’s much easier than telephone calls and e-mails. (2009). for a lot of cases. what recommendations or criticisms there have been of the product and where best to purchase. I’ve started relationships and signed contracts exclusively within social networks . ”Now we are not searching for the news. news. 2009) It might be useful if Facebook could be used as a search engine. they would just require some thought and persistence to make them effective. It would be interesting to research into how likely this is becoming – would Facebook users like to be able to search for recommended products/and be comfortable recommending products within their social space? Due the massive amount of information over the internet.Firstly they can use them to promote themselves. could the instant messaging facility be used for example? This can be added to mobile phones and potentially could be easier to maintain closer contact whilst the user is out of the office.’ Zuckerberg to Smith (2009) More specifically the benefit for an online business is great as it creates fantastic opportunities to contact and communicate with your target market and/or other people who might come in useful to your business for help or advice in a very fluid manner: “what it does is keep the information flow more open and also allows for a much more deeper relationship than e-mail. etc. ‘The reason why a lot of people use the Inbox on Facebook instead of email. using amongst other tools the social networking groups. one of the most successful micro-blogging sites that can allow users to exchange information in very fast and effective way. This creates a new dynamic to the way that we receive mass media. is you don’t need to know someone’s email address – you can just send it to their identity directly. From there he 6 . Social Networking is the perfect tool to control it. news commentator of CNN Newsroom decided to test out the new medium of Twitter and begun placing his daily activities online. They might also want to think about how they could use them for internal communications. This could speed up and increase the flexibility of internal communications and working patterns for the company which in turn would allow them to free up more time to focus on promotion. They might find that writing instant messages rather than emails from a blackberry easier than it would be to write an email whilst on the move. One example is Twitter. the news find us” Qualman.It is revolutionary for sales. so users will not have to keep looking for it and wasting their time. The influence of social media to the news and an example of just how it can be brought to us through social networking was described in Erik Qualman (2009) where Rick Sanchez. webinars and webcasts are useful cost-effective ways of promotion. you then might be able to search for products through the site and it could tell you if any of your friends had bought the same.

’ Meaning that you can’t spam people as whilst you can invite people to join a group. The survey was open to all. Whilst the age gap between 17 and 40 years of age is not ideal.Social networking as a useful tool The questionnaire was sent to users of Facebook to identify several aspects of social networking and its possible effect/benefits and disadvantages to online businesses. 2007) made was that ‘The informal. The way that social media can attract people today is vast. See Appendix 1 & 2. Director of Marketing Communications for ooVoo ‘an application for conducting face-to-face video conversations’ (Meerman Scott.Methodology For the research investigation a survey was created containing questions that are relevant to three different headings: -The erosion of the boundaries between personal and professional with social networking -The Identity of people using social networks . and was directly posted to about 100. 4. this may be representative of the majority of the Facebook user’s population age range. What would you like to know most about Iraq or Iran’? After that Rick Sanchez had 75.000 people following in the social network. pg 232) created a group in Facebook as a marketing tool where they would let members or ‘fans’ of the group use their software first. The questions chosen specific to the headings as noted above are to establish opinions on the theories and ideas as discussed in the literature review. you can’t force them to join. Meerman Scott (2007) described how Philip Robertson. The people to whom the survey was posted directly to were from a range of age groups from between about 17 to 40. From the people to whom the survey was sent 24 replied and there were 6 further people (who were outside of the group of 100 to whom the survey was posted). it could take just fifteen minutes to attract huge quantities of visitors.0 .started to leverage the Twitter platform to ask provoking questions such as: ‘I’m interviewing Collin Power tonight. such as people who are not open about their own private life. The interesting point that (Meerman Scott. and once they are in the group you should offer something that is of interest to them for them to be a more active member or to hold their attention like the way that Philip Robertson offered the members of the group to use the software first. The group grew very quickly. resulting in a total of 30 participants. 2007. The questions in section one were designed to evaluate how people value the idea of privacy. and from a variety of different nationalities and professions. two-way nature of Facebook’s group dynamics in an important aspect for marketers. 7 . There are a couple of questions designed to establish whether there may be double standards in attitudes to this. but would be interested to know about another’s when it came to dealing with them within a professional context.

which would usually be something that is high up on the Google ranking. If the data reveals that people are willing to be open about their private lives to their colleagues and clients and would be interested to learn some of the more personal aspects to a professional who’s services/product they are contracting/purchasing. as they can assess whether they are what they believe to be the right type of person for the job that they require of you. then one could draw the conclusion that it might be advisable for online companies to consider being more open about their personal lives amongst their colleagues and clients. 5.If a client were to use the services of an online business they may find it reassuring to know something about the ‘person’ delivering the services. It would also be advisable evaluate how they might come across as presented in their social networking profile and to take measures to ensure that they exert a large amount of control in either their behaviour or what they present on the social networking sites. Section two seeks to establish whether the behaviour of people on social networking sites corresponds to the theory that this is governed by human nature. social networking has changed communication in a positive way. Section three has been designed to establish which tools are particularly useful in Facebook. and most of them also strongly agreed that due to the amount of information and shops that Google will retrieve for them in a search. as this may be useful information for an online business as would help them to know and understand their target market and learn how to use the power of recommendation within the groups.1 . If this is so. This shows that most of the participants strongly agreed that in terms of accessibility.Analysis of findings The questions with the greatest amount of variance in their results were questions 18 and 13 and the least variance was shown in questions 16 and 6. Some people might find they trust more in purchasing items that are recommended by a social networking group they joined and others would rely more heavily on customer reviews on online shopping sites.0 . In particular the notion that people have a need to establish oneself as a part of a specific group. and as to whether you are a genuine. It is expected that people may purchase items to enforce their identity as being a part of the group. a couple of the questions have been designed to test whether the idea of an extra search facility might be useful or popular to users of Facebook. they would tend to settle to purchase from the first place that they find. how this also may influence someone’s purchasing habits.Findings and discussion 5. 8 . The questions seek to investigate how people feel about the way in which social networking has changed communication. and reliable person. In order to aid the objectives in the creation of a social networking site that could benefit online businesses. to what extent would be interesting to establish.

2 . 5.The questions with the least variance revealed that the participants were quite evenly dispersed into groups who would frequently update their status with what they were doing and those who would not. Also quite surprising was the result that most strongly agreed that having a search facility that would track through the history of conversations / updates of people from their networks to find whether they had discussed a particular product or service to see if it was recommended and that they would also be more likely to update their profile with what they had purchased than to update it with what they are doing. The participants also concurred to agree that they would trust recommendations from their social networking group rather than trusting online recommendations listed in an online shop. More interestingly was that whilst most participants strongly agreed that accessibility of communication had changed communication in a positive way. perhaps this is not so surprising since the survey was based on Facebook users. they themselves might not like to be judged in the same way. and those who would add their employer/colleagues and clients and those who would not. They also were mostly in accordance to agree that they probably would prefer not to know about their private life. The results in section one show that whilst the participants coincided on their agreement that knowing about a professional’s private life might affect their view of their capability to do their job. which may indicate why most were not sure whether they would add their employer/colleagues or clients as a friend on Facebook. the data also showed that the participants would trust people they know more so than they would to a stranger as it 9 . In section two the results expose that the participants mostly like to be a part of a group. Section three in general demonstrated the most concurrences of opinions of all three sections. whilst the results reveal that the participants would not congregate into the same category when updating their status with what they were doing. in particular one that their friend may have joined first. Interestingly.Discussion The erosion of the boundaries between personal and professional is increasingly making the distance between the two realms much smaller. The data also showed quite positive feedback on the improvement of accessibility and quality of communication on social networking sites. This is not something that everyone is comfortable with. It appears from the research data that whilst the participants would judge another professional on the basis of their private life. the data indicated that this was largely for the reason that they didn’t know the people who had left the reviews on the online shop but to an even greater degree it is because most of the participants felt that the recommendations on the online shopping website could be easily faked. they seemed to concur to strongly agree that they would update their status with something that they had purchased to let people know whether they liked it or disliked it. there seemed less certainty that the quality of communication had improved. the findings showed that they might prefer not to know about the professional’s private life but at the same time some degree of openness would be useful.

Social networking sites are also continuingly responding to the developing needs of the users. In the future. people are still concerned about privacy and how they might judge a counsellor as less qualified to deal with their personal issues if they have unsolved personal issues of their own.is not always easy to tell who is genuine from those who aren’t from the millions of online businesses and professionals. Such was the reaction of Thomas. Without social networking the internet would be too immense for people to approach as with its increasing quantity of professional entrepreneurs. It is apparent from the findings that users will rely strongly on recommendations to help aid their decision on what companies or products they should spend their money on. ‘corporations will need to accept that in the Social Networking arena. People like to feel like they are a part of a group/nationality/religion as it helps them come to terms with a confusing world. This is due to the fact that one just can’t decide between the millions of sites selling the same thing. p. doesn’t mean that that should be the best shop to buy from. the fact that the product appears cheaper could be a fraud. Online businesses must not ignore the power of social groups which is the very reason why social networking has become so popular. Here we have looked at how at present. It is advisable for an online business to think carefully about being more open about who they are as this may not only attract people as they will be able to see more clearly that they are genuine. people may enjoy (as they already seem to be doing so) being more open about their personal life and find that privacy loses its meaning and value. often finding that they need to exert more control. J (2008) as mentioned in the literature review. online businesses of shops and services there is also an ever increasing quantity of fraud. containing within them more useful tools. As social networking has only been around within the last 10 years with increasing popularity over the last 5 we are still learning how to use it effectively. it could be that people are going to be more used to the fact that they are going to have to let go of their previously enjoyed privacy. These have developed over the past few years and are continuing to do so as the needs of the social networking users become apparent. people who aren’t who they say that they are and those who are just using it to create problems for internet users such as viruses. 2008. They will also be able to see that they are well-rounded individuals who can form part of and contribute to a community which are also good qualities. The research has shown that the way that people have gained control and power over the mass of information is that they can help each other. With regards to the need 10 . Social networking can link people and within the communities there is strength in numbers and greater possibility to make sense of the immenseness of information that the internet has become. most of what is said about the company will not be said ‘by the company’ and as such. as discussed. Perhaps also the response that they would rather not know the professional’s private life may be because they themselves would not want to be judged in the same way.’ (at&t. just because something is cheaper from one online shop. such people do this just because they can and it can give them a feeling of power. these communications need to be managed differently than in the past.4) Social networks have become a very useful tool.

As so many of us use social networking sites. there have been some interesting resounding affects. tag you and write whatever they want on your ‘wall’. To this generation.’ 6.to be able to control privacy as people are finding increasingly difficult to control the content of what is seen by others on the social networking sites. The increased range of methods available for you to choose how to contact your friends has augmented. this is for many reasons. perhaps the distinction between private and professional just doesn’t mean the same as it does to previous generations. Social networking sites are the very tool to do this. Tools such as the ability to block someone. One of the benefits of the new style of communication is that when you contact someone on a social networking site as Zuckerberg to Smith (2009) put it ‘you don’t need to know someone’s email address – you can just send it to their identity directly. preventing friends from being able to tag you. this is something that is dying out and we are all adapting and changing. or whether you just let your friends see your profile and the wider networks can be limited to just viewing carefully selected information. to select from the user privacy settings whether you let everyone see your profile in the same way. Perhaps we might post a careless comment to our status update that we haven’t put enough thought into that might be able to view it and how they might be judging you. particularly with Facebook where people can upload photos of you. privacy and control of privacy are very important issues for an online business. That also could involve the need as a human being to be identified as a part of a group and this could be very beneficial for an online 11 . People find that if they need something in particular they will use Social Networking sites for helping to each other to be part of a group of people. we upload photos and tag each other from our reckless nights out drinking we can be seen by the world in ways other than that which we might wish our employers or clients to view us. It appears that Social Networking has changed the way of communication in a way that people feel more connected to each other.Conclusion As communication is changing since the rise in popularity of social networking. another possibility is that we start to learn to judge people a little less harshly.0 . As found through the research study has positively changed the accessibility of the means to communicate with friends. Either we start to behave a little less recklessly on a night out or we take better care in learning about the privacy tools on social networking websites such as Facebook and exert a little more control with the tools available such as limiting how others view our profiles. Already as discussed by Qualman (2009) we will start to feel more at ease with it such as Generation Y who have grown up with the use of computers and are at home using digital media. Otherwise. All these things with a little extra care could be turned around to our benefit and become things that can show us in a more positive light. As described whilst discussing the power of forming groups to gain social support. As examined. Whilst many generations have enjoyed a distinction between their private and professional lives.

12 . then they will make themselves known and then you can give the greater details to someone who actually cares. what you are about and what you do. If also we began to rely more heavily on recommendations by friends rather than possible fraudulent posts on online shops. The tools that are available on social networking sites should be more utilised by online businesses as they provide a great way of getting into the online communities they can create groups that offer fun or useful software just for the members of that particular group to enjoy alone. This also works well when promoting yourself. you are sending it directly to them in a more personal format. as when you have a slightly more abstract thought about something or you might just want to let people know that you are not feeling well. An online business could equally use this tool for the same reason. or continuing. Wall updates are also useful. perhaps even there will be a stronger focus on customer care. this could also change the way that online companies will have to go about their business. Emails can also now be considered as cumbersome since now when you send a message to someone’s inbox in Facebook. 2008). you will see their profile picture. This could be implemented in the creation of a new artefact that would be used in as informal a manner as Facebook. but also contains the searching feature. Being a part of a group gives us more power as consumers. they might then be able to see what is being recommended and why. The tools available for communication can be very valuable when there is a need for fluid conversation.growing business. stopping that person from replying immediately when in actual fact their response is being carefully created but made to look like it was spontaneous. you are sending it directly to them – you may even be able to see whether they are online or not. This helps us understand that if one person discovers a fraudulent company and reports it to their friends and then each of their friends pass on the message and so on. This is better than a phone call since there still can be more care taken into what is written as there is more tolerance of a delay in reply as each person can’t see or hear the other it is quite possible that a delay in response could be because someone has walked into the other person’s room and is speaking to them. but not want go into great detail at that stage as the initial wall post often seeks to test the waters to see if anyone is interested in how you feel or what you are thinking. which is why these updates can be valuable to maintain to let people know you. this would help users search for recommendations of products and services from histories of archived conversations from people in your network. could prevent such frauds happening. There is small step from having links to strangers who you may have happened across online to a social networking friend who might eventually to become a client. creating a viral-like warning. they might be interested and reading your updates. Based on the survey results it is evident that the inclusion of a search facility on Facebook might be a valuable tool for users and online businesses alike. If anyone is interested. you can feed your group with little excerpts about what you would really like to tell people and if they are interested then even if they don’t write back to you. the theory that we are all linked by 6 degrees of separation (at&t. Professionals and entrepreneurs can use social networking sites to share useful information and advice with other professionals by doing this they create good Karma for themselves and their company and then after that their name will be spread in a positive light by word-of–mouth.

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Fig.1 Fig.2 15 .