Social networking for the non-techie

(This post is intended for my lovely wife, Joy, who is a casual internet user but isn’t a geek as his husband is. And because she will be exposed to a lot of these in the very near future (Team Sparrow announcement this week!), I’m going to try to dump what I learned so far in this business to her, starting with social networking. In the process, I hope to help my other readers too, who are also casual internet users like her.)

Social networking is a term being used by internet geeks to speak about the way people connect with each other on the net. It’s like being in a party where you connect with long lost friends or new acquaintances. You exchanged calling cards, took pictures and chat. What happens is that you use that party for several possible reasons. It can be 1) a way for you to reconnect with old friends, 2) meet new ones, 3) a way to gather contacts for future business, or 4) to “sell” or advertise yourself, your business, your profession or even your belief system.

What could have happened physically can now happen virtually through websites or social network tools. Let me mention a few of these, most of which I am using right now:

Friendster. Ah, you have this, hon. And I know you’re enjoying your Friendster account. I often catch you modifying your profile with gusto! :D And adding friends known or unknown is real fun. Friendster, in my understanding, started all these social networking craze. Unfortunately, they haven’t improved for years now and without the Philippine users, this social network is dead already. There are, in fact, a lot of very good alternatives to Friendster. Let me show you Facebook.

Facebook. Facebook is your new Friendster killer. I mean, this thing is so dynamic, with their new application API, the possibility of new features are endless. As one of my online buddies guitarchic said in one of her Twit (what the heck is a twit? Later… :) ), “Friendster’s so blaaah compared to Fezbook.” If you want to sign up to Facebook, click here. Don’t forget to add me (email: arnold dot gamboa at teamsparrow dot net).

MySpace. I’m not a fan, I thought this is just one of those Friendster look-a-likes. It turned out that it’s better (heck, it even had a multi-million dollar infusion and Friendster is selling at $2 million and still no takers). I do have a myspace account but I don’t know where it is anymore. I don’t use it anyway.

Multiply. I’d like to see Multiply as a more organized, technologically more powerful Friendster social network. Here, you can do pretty much anything you can do at Friendster, only better and easier. You can post blogs and events. You can also post pictures, videos and even mp3’s and have your other Multiply friends post their comments. If you want to get a Multiply account, sign up here. Don’t forget to add me (username: arnoldgamboa)

LinkedIn. This one’s a business oriented social network. LinkedIn helps you connect with colleagues, business partners and former co-employees and former bosses. While I still have to strike a business deal using this social network, I can see its great potential. And because you are going to be one of us, you need to get your own LinkedIn account. Click here. Don’t forget to add me (arnold dot gamboa at teamsparrow dot net).

Twitter. Twitter is a new player yet made a tremendous impact on how people conduct themselves on the internet. Who would think that people will bite the idea of broadcasting to the world what they are doing for the moment? Who would care?, I asked when I first used this tool. It turned out that people do care about what you do, for several reasons. Just consider Twitter as your mind dumping machine. If you can’t blog, twittering is a great way to tell your followers what you are up to. If you want to use Twitter, make sure you use Twitterific (already installed in our MacBook) and sign up for an account from the Twitter front page. Don’t forget to follow me (username: arnoldgamboa) because i will definitely follow you :-)

Flickr. Flickr is a “picture-based” social network. Call it a hub for photography enthusiasts. People upload their photos and build communities through that. I don’t social network at Flickr for the basic reason that I’m not photography enthusiast. I simply use the website to upload our family pictures as well as that of Grace Place‘s activities at another account. I wouldn’t suggest that you add another account. Let’s just maintain our family account.

Blogging. Yes, we can consider this as a social network too. You see, on my Google Reader sits about 60 blog feeds from all over the world. Locally, I met a number of bloggers, some of which became friends. Blogging can be an avenue for you to express your thoughts, sell your ideas and meet new friends. So, while you’re doing a great job in posting on your blog the articles you write for Grace Place’s program guide every Sunday, I would suggest that you also use it the way other bloggers use their own. Believe me, it’s fun.

There are other social networks like Christianster and del.icio.us. I’ll try to limit my discussion with the above networks for now.

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Sometimes, social networking is nauseating, sobra na, ang dami! Try to focus on a couple of tools. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all these. Don’t try to keep up with technology, you can never be. I can’t. And lastly, as I mentioned before, the internet is still an impersonal tool as far as I’m concerned. It can never replace face to face interaction. Don’t believe everything posted on the internet. Bloggers and even social networks has a way to hide a huge portion of who they really are. What we normally say or do online is just a small chuck of the real us. Don’t find conclusions from social network postings. Just a few tips as you dive into the deep sea of social networking. ;-)

That’s it for now. See you at home. And at the office. In the near future. I love you!