Social Networks May Benefit Web Developers

LOS ANGELES — Social networking is alive and well, thank you, even if it is often overlooked or dismissed as a marketing technique by socially-isolated web developers.

“If you are a web developer, you may have brushed off social networking as a phenomenon that is dominated by teenagers and people seeking relationships,” HTML Goodies author Scott Clark wrote. “If you talk to non-developers, however, you may have realized that social networking is pervasive, and noticed that most smart businesses have embraced the phenomenon as a way to attract potential customers and interact with their current customers.”

This raises the question, “do ‘geeky’ web developers ‘care’ about social interaction, and if not, does this attitude hamper the brand- and traffic building techniques they bring to clients?”

Whatever the motivations for past avoidance of social marketing channels, developers and website owners need to take the arena seriously — executing cohesive strategies for extending brand awareness, providing support, generating traffic, and making new sales where appropriate.

According to Clark, the top social networking sites that developers should be aware of when trying to satisfy the needs of clients’ businesses, include Facebook, Google+, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Classmates, MyLife, Ning, LiveJournal and Tagged.

Changes in the marketplace include Facebook doubling its monthly visitors over the same period last year, while MySpace suffered a 13 percent decrease in its user volume.

Clark says that a business’ social networking presence should not merely be a copy of its website, nor appear to be a sales brochure.

“It should provide a more personal look at your business [and] the people who are involved, and the social networking sites should be a place where, although still done in a professional manner, your company can let its hair down, so to speak,” Clark added. “Interesting aspects of your business, positive communications with your customers, new aspects of the business that you are working on or considering are all topics to be considered for posting on your social networking sites.”

It is important, say experts, to keep a positive, professional attitude while posting to social networks, being always mindful of their rules and keeping an eye out for technical features that can be used to enhance their interaction with the site and its other members.

Clark also advises developers to investigate the different tools, such as RSS feeds, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and Software Developer’s Kits (SDKs), that are offered by the various social networking sites as a way of extending their offering’s customization, interactivity and reach.

However you choose to implement social networking and marketing, remember that it is not an issue of whether or not you are too busy to chat with anyone — it’s an issue of a company not being too busy to communicate with its customers.