Social Networks - Define Social Networks

What are social networks and how can they help your business?

social networks for home business
Social Networks can connect you with your target market. Credit: Petar Chernaev | Getty Images

Definition of Social Network:

Traditionally, social networks are groups of individuals who share a commonality. In some ways, they're clubs. In professional circles, they're networking groups.

With the growth of the Internet and creation of social media, social networking has come to represent the platforms by which people engage, interact, and communicate. For example, Facebook is viewed as a social network, as is Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.

 Today's social networks are predominately free to join, which makes them extremely popular.

Advantages of Social Networks in a Home Business:

One of the biggest challenges to home businesses is marketing on a shoestring budget. Social networks have been a game changer in helping small and large businesses find and connect with their target markets because:

1) They're free. While many networks have advanced features for an additional fee, the most popular networks and their basic features are free to use.

2) They make you accessible to your market. People like to do business with companies they can get to know and who respond to them.

3) You can be more responsive to your market and its needs. Social media lets you chat, answer questions, solve problems, and more directly with your customers.

Disadvantages of Social Networks in a Home Business:

While social networks offer a fantastic way to market your business, it's not without its pitfalls, such as:

1) It's time-consuming. Social networks are built on two-way communication. It's not enough to post your messages, you also need to engage with and respond to others, which over several networks can take time.

2) It can go wrong quickly. Social media spreads like wildfire, and once online, it never goes away.

One wrong statement can damage your brand and online reputation.

3) Results can take time to manifest. Social media isn't about advertising, it's about connecting with others. As a result, it works best as a way to build trust and rapport, which takes time. That means it can be a while before your "followers" buy from or hire you.

Use of Social Networks for Job or Freelance Work Search

Social networks can be useful for those who are seeking legitimate work at home jobs or freelance work. In fact, most freelancers I know find their clients through social networking either through direct contact and building a relationship or through referrals from their followers. Many social networks have the ability to build career connections. The most well-known social network for career tools and networking is LinkedIn.

Social Networks for Business Promotion

While strictly used for personal social networking initially, entrepreneurs are industrious people and figured out how to use social networking as a marketing tool. From its birth, LinkedIn was geared more to fostering network connections within the business community and it's common for entrepreneurs and corporate managers alike to seek out partnership opportunities for their business.

However, most social networks, from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Instagram now have businesses who use their profiles to share information, entertain, and connect with their market. However, there is a right and wrong way to use social networks in the promotion of a business. Posting "buy me" and other self-promotional content all the time is a sure way to lose followers. 

Also Known As: social networking, social media

Examples: Sally found her second client through a referral from a connection she had on LinkedIn.