Social Media 104: Intro to Social Networking

Note:  Social Media 104 is part of the Core Curriculum for Social Media University, Global (SMUG).

Visiting Professor and honorary SMUG doctoral candidate Lee LeFever, whose material also has been indispensable in Social Media 102: Intro to RSS and Social Media 103: Intro to Wikis, again has a “Plain English” video to introduce new users to the benefits of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Watch it:


If you want to use social networking sites for business purposes, here are a few introductory tips about each of the top three sites:

  • “MySpace is for middle schoolers.” That’s the assessment of my youngest daughter, the wise-beyond-her-years high school junior. It’s an overstatement, but it does match the demographic reality that the MySpace demographic skews young. Which is why it’s a bit disturbing to me that on MySpace I get far more porn spam “friend” requests than anything else. MySpace claims a much larger user base than Facebook, but somehow I doubt that Alla, Alyson, Anna, Clarice, Esperanza, Estella, Evelyn, Gertrude, Ivy, Jaymie, Judy, Judith, Jennifer, Karan, Keeley, Mertie, Michaela, Maritza, Norine, Nisha, Patricia, Ramona, Traci, Thelma, Vanessa, Valeria and Zada are real people. But if you are an aspiring musician or otherwise want to reach a young fan base, you may want to have MySpace in your mix. For example, my friend Scott Meis with the Donate Life Illinois initiative to increase organ donation has found MySpace a great way to reach young people with his message.
  • LinkedIn is the most popular strictly professional networking site. I call it “Social Networking without the social.” I know others swear by it, and I’m happy to be a member, but I don’t see it involving its users as much as either Facebook or MySpace do. If you work for a professional services firm and are looking to do hardcore networking, LinkedIn could be great. It gives you ability to provide and ask for references and recommendations.
  • Facebook, with its Ivy League college roots, strikes a nice balance between the two. It’s far less susceptible to spam than MySpace is. I’ve devoted a whole section of this blog to Facebook business uses, so for Social Media 104 students who want to read ahead for extra credit, go to the Facebook Business page.

Homework Assignments:

  1. Visit my MySpace page. If you want to send me a friend invite, that would be great to actually have some non-spam requests. I don’t spend much time in MySpace, though, so if we want to have a SMUG class about MySpace, we probably should have a guest instructor. Any volunteers? If you think I haven’t been fair to the biggest social networking site, I’d be glad to accept a guest post about the advantages of MySpace. If you want to create a MySpace page to get more hands-on experience, that gets you extra credit, too, but it’s optional.
  2. Create a LinkedIn profile. Find at least five current or former work colleagues and add them to your network.
  3. Join Facebook. This is a remedial assignment, as it was part of Social Media 101, but if you haven’t completed this step yet, now is a great time to do it. Then you can enroll in SMUG and Friend me.

Class Discussion

Answer the following in the comments below: 

  1. Which social networking sites have you joined?
  2. Do you find one of them more useful than the others for your business purposes?
  3. If so, which one, and why?
  4. Do you belong to a social networking site not mentioned above? Which one(s)? Why do you find it helpful?

Connecting With Your Audience Using Social Networking

J.C. Bouvier of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Kevin Reid of Issue Dynamics presented this case study. In his previous career, J.C. started Avid’s podcast series.

He took the job with IFAW, a more pragmatic organization than PETA, to  promote the Stop the Seal Hunt campaign, aimed at getting the Canadian government to take action.


  • Recruit thousands of new users into IFAW’s existing
  • Generate 10,000s of new messages to the government of Canada
  • Increase fundraising
  • Provide a range of engaging, meaningful activities for new and old users

Campaign Components

Goal was to get 300,000 actions taken.

Evoca is a way to upload and share audio…like YouTube for audio.


  • Community Members: 98,000+
  • Subscriber List: 5 percent increase
  • Actions taken: 346 percent increase
  • Donations: 56 percent up over previous year
  • MySpace: Doubled number of Friends
  • YouTube: Over 60,000 views

IFAW also has the Stop Whaling campaign, with similar elements.

Sun Microsystems Embracing Social Media

Sheira Ariel and Carrie Motamedi from Sun Microsystems presented Embracing Social Media: Why, When & How?

Sheira asked whether social media are “just for fun” or also for business.

I actually think social media can make business more fun. And if your goal is more engaged employees, wouldn’t having more fun lead to more productivity?

She gave the example of IBM using instant messaging to put together a proposal for a client really quickly. Likewise, I’ve suggested using Twitter to quickly activate a crisis-response team.

On any given day, half of Sun’s 35,000 employees are working remotely. This makes a stronger case for using the collaborative power of social media.

A year ago they were using traditional communication vehicles: Town Hall meetings, E-mail, Static Web content, Newsletters, Conference Calls. Now they’re adding Global Town Halls, blogs, IM, Facebook, Wikis, Video/Podcasts, WebEx, SecondLife.

The Sun culture supports social media. Then-COO Jonathan Schwartz launched his external blog in 2004. As CEO, he challenged the employee communications group in 2007 to focus on “building communities” instead of just “doing communications.” They renamed their group to include the “communities” element: Global Employee Communications and Communities (GECCO)

Schwartz’s mantra is “Everything always in beta.” This enables them to experiment.

Sheira’s Guiding Principles & Tips:

  • Focus – pick a couple of manageable projects to get some quick wins
  • Start Small
  • Know Your End Goal
  • It’s a Journey

Five Common Social Media Goals

  1. Connect with friends and co-workers quickly
  2. Collaborate
  3. Build communities
  4. Get what you want (not what someone else wants you to have)
  5. Share

Matching Tools to Goals

  1. Wikis for collaboration/knowledge sharing
  2. Blogs to build reputation/share information
  3. Text messaging/IM for quick connections
  4. Forums and message boards to get employee feedback, solve mutual problems
  5. Facebook, MySpace, Ning to build relationships, share

Sun has about 5,000 people on Facebook. Socializing that happens in Facebook builds relationships that help create collaboration. It’s pleasure that leads to better business.

Sun has a PR group focused on social media. They also have experimented with events as ways to “slip in” new technologies on a pilot basis.

I created an event on Facebook within Social Media University, Global. I hope everyone who is attending the conference will indicate their attendance at this event by:

  1. Joining Facebook if you’re not there already.
  2. Enrolling in SMUG
  3. Indicating your attendance at the event.
  4. Continuing the conversation and networking, either around the event or by discussing here.