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How will social networking help my business?

Clients have been asking about social networking. They ask: "Can you create me a page on Facebook?", "How will social networking help my business?" and one client even asked for training on how to get started with social networking. In order to better help my clients, I did a little research...

What is Social Networking?
Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision. Social networking websites function like an online community of Internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share a common interest such as hobbies, religion, or politics. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.


Why Use Social Networking for your Business?
While many people regard social networking tools as a fun diversion, some companies are leveraging them to accomplish goals, such as increasing their visibility, helping constituents find jobs, and raising awareness about time-sensitive issues. Social networking sites have been the rage of the tech industry for more than a year. Following investments by Microsoft and News Corp., the companies are valued in the billions of dollars and are considered blueprints for how to build a website.

Yet a deeper question lingers: How are they going to consistently produce profits to match their soaring valuations? Social networks present an enormous opportunity — maybe the biggest in tech since e-mail. The sites have simplified and amplified connections between people online, creating a thriving ecosystem of small programs that let friends interact through games, greetings, video clips and more.

Social networks are the latest iteration of the Web economy. But unlike e-commerce sites and search engines, they offer a more intimate setting for friends to share information. It is also conceivable that social networking, like e-mail, will never make piles of cash, but will be a new way of communicating. Where services such as Friendster,, MySpace, and Facebook have been successful bringing friends, singles, and groups together based on affinity and mutual interests, business-networking services are now offering a parallel experience in the professional world.

This use of online, friend/associate-based networking will prove to be one of the most valuable business tools the Internet has yet provided, says Michael Jones, President of Userplane. Often, the key to using a business network successfully involves the creation of your personal friends — or business connections — group. The registration process is similar across the various social networking websites.

Overview of a Couple Business Related Social Networking Sites
  • LinkedIn, a Job Search Engine with a Social Networking Twist Unlike many of the best-known social networking sites, LinkedIn focuses primarily on creating and maintaining professional contacts. You can use the site to touch base with former coworkers and classmates, find people employed in the nonprofit sector, and obtain professional references.

    The site, currently boasting 5.5 million users, supports the creation of groups, and has a dedicated category for nonprofits. LinkedIn offers plenty of resources for hiring employees, consultants, or service providers. What it doesn't offer are discussions or forums, so if you're looking to chat or talk about a specific topic, you'll have to do that via email or instant messaging or using a different social networking application.

    For more information, read 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn by Mario Sundar
  • Smaller Indiana, Local Online Community making Offline Connections Smaller Indiana makes creative people and innovative ideas easier to find. This is the place for you to share your ideas and engage with Indiana's most creative and inspired souls...working together to build community, culture and commerce. The biggest distinction from other social networks, like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, is that Smaller Indiana is local.
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Get more visitors to your web site - Part 1

If you build it, they will come. This is NOT correct in regards to a web site. Consider the millions of web sites on the Internet that you are competing with... Don't be discouraged, there are many things you can do to increase your hits and visitors. I'm going to give a few suggestions here and start by offering a few things you can do for free.

Who to hire for your web site project

There are so many choices of who to hire for your web site project. There are advantages and disadvantages to the different options, so the real question is figuring out what is best for you or your company. Let's take a look at some of the different people you could hire.

Local Web Companies: Companies in your area are a good solution if you need all sorts of different components in a web site or if you need someone to develop your online strategy from beginning to end. In this route, they are going to tell you what you need and be able to provide the full package. The cost will reflect this high level of service.

4 things to look for in a web designer

By Tatum Bree Hindman
Copyright 2008

Developing and designing a web site can be a stressful process, especially for the first time. Technology and options are endless and ever-changing. In this article, I hope to give you an overview of how to choose a good web designer and provide some advice to get started.

Why won't my Flash video (.flv) play online?

Web Developers: Have you uploaded a Flash video file and it won't play on the live site? It works locally on your computer, but not on the site.

Don't spend a bunch of time checking your code! You likely just need to set a MIME type for the file to play on the server. I have had this issue a few times with clients (each on various hosting providers) and made the correction by simply adding the MIME type.

Many hosting providers will offer this within their "admin control panel" or you can specify MIME type via IIS. The MIME type that should be added for Flash video is: video/x-flv The file extension is: .flv

To add Flash video MIME type in IIS, here are instructions:
1) Select the site to configure in IIS, right click and select "Properties"
2) Under HTTP Headers Tab, select "File Types"
> under the MIME Map section >select "New Type"
3) Type ".flv" as the associated extension and "video/x-flv" as the content type.
4) Select "OK" and check the site.

It should be working right away.

Good luck with your project!

How often should a company or organization redesign their web site?

This question does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. Unfortunately, it varies based on several things.

First of all, we suggest to our clients during the web site creation process that making routine changes is imperative to keep information fresh and attract return users. If things are designed and tools built into the site initially, then a site's effectiveness should last longer. Reviewing web site statistics quarterly or more is also a good idea to point out obvious changes and ways to make the site better without a complete "re-do".

Now, with that said, design trends, technology, and browsers change. It is important to keep your web site visually up to date. There is not magic number to how often design trends change, but they do. No matter how much you loved your site 5 years ago, it is likely not taking advantage of the newest ways to display information and graphic styles. However, when a web site is properly coded, swapping design elements may not require a major overhaul. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allow design changes in a systematic way.

On the other hand, design preferences also change over time. The company president may have changed and the new president wants different colors. Goals may also shift and as such, the web site design should be adjusted to meet those needs.

Re-design is a big process, but it is exciting and allows companies to make their online presence better and improve things learned from development of their current site.

Before jumping into a redesign, TBH Creative suggests the following process:
  1. Evaluate your current web site. What elements do you like and why? - If nothing, then it is definitely time to change. - If there are things you still like, evaluate if small changes can be made around them.
  2. Look at other web sites that you find effective. Why do you like these sites? Why are they appealing? Then, think about if your current site offers the same things. Keep a list.
  3. Look at the work and portfolio samples of companies you are considering hiring to help with the redesign. This is a good idea of what your next site might look like, so be sure you like what their style.
As a general guideline, about every 3-5 years design styles change on the Internet. So, if it is time for your web site redesign, we make the following recommendations.
Good luck on your new web site. If you are looking for a company to assist with your redesign, please contact TBH Creative for a proposal.

An evaluation of a fresh web statistic tool

There are so many different web statistics out there today. I have AW Stats on my web site for free with my web hosting. I also have Google Analytics set up to track trends. Both are good reports.

Last year, I was referred to a fresh and new tool for web site tracking called Crazy Egg. The reports they offer are different because they provide data visually instead of hard to read graphs and tables. For example, do you want to know where on your web page users are clicking? Not what link(s) were clicked, but where exactly on the page.

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