Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Social Networks and the Power of Word of Mouth

I learned the power of word of mouth when I was planning our big event in July. We went to a small Steampunk event to advertise and then later met a woman who was there. She didn't recognize us because she had run a table at the other side of the event but when she heard what we liked, she tried to recommend our own event to us. It was so cool to hear a stranger try to tell us about our own event.

On the same day I met a blogger whose work I enjoy. I told her about our event, just for amusement's sake, and then gave her some help on a project she was doing. The next thing I know she is linking to our event on her blog (which has major traffic). We got over 100 hits that week just from her site, which isn't even related to our topic at all.

I blogged and tweeted about our event to many people, and to my surprise some people responded. I got national attention from two tweeters with large followings. We had over 300 hits in one day from one person's link to us alone.

It is amazing what reaching out to others can do for you. That's true in our personal lives, as well as when doing publicity for an event.

That's one of the reasons why I don't think Facebook is evil, like some people say. True, Facebook's security is lax and their default settings allow too much personal information to be visible to strangers. It is also true that too many people post stupid things on their Facebook page as if they think they are private sites. It's not private; it's the internet. By definition, you should presume that anything you put on the internet or in email might get out to the whole world at some point.

However, if you take basic precautions, I think that places like Facebook can be good for us, in moderation at least. It allows us to maintain wide social networks. I can appeal to my Facebook friends for advice or let them know the latest project I am working on this week. I also recently gave away somethings that I thought would be better going to friends rather than Goodwill. In this way I helped strengthen my social network. My friends might help me later because I've helped them now. In this way, we both gain. They got some good DVDs and other stuff I didn't want, and I get a closer connection to some friends I don't see very often. Maybe they will help me later, maybe not--but I lost nothing by giving them these items.

People can help, by spreading the news about you (for instance, I am still job hunting and I remind my friends to be on the lookout for a job for me), or by doing other favors. In the same way, I try to help my friends.

Networking is a wonderful thing; it's not just for computers anymore!

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