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So, what is this social networking stuff?

Last week we did a little dance at our desks when Slashdot reported that social networking at work is good. We’ve been encouraging clients to embrace these new communication channels (as appropriate) – and not be afraid of what’s new.

The fear, I think, comes from the unknown. With names like Twitter, Flickr, and blog (oh my!) it’s not instantly clear what you’re getting into. So let’s break it down.

If we had to define the tricks of the social media trade on a bumper sticker, here’s what we’d have:

  • Blog – Online journal, a “web log”
  • TwitterMini blog… 140 characters or less
  • Yammer – Twitter for business
  • Technorati – Google for blogs
  • Del.icio.us – A social bookmarks manager
  • MySpaceYour personal website for connecting with friends
  • FacebookMySpace that started in academia
  • LinkedInBusiness networking and contacts site
  • YouTube – Online video sharing
  • Flickr Online photo sharing
  • Second Life – A virtual reality
  • Podcast“Talk radio” to play on your iPod
  • RSSTivo for the webit puts what you want online in one place

Based on the definitions above, I’d have to say that we are a little surprised that the article featured Facebook as the tool that workplaces should encourage. Business-specific social networking sites do exist – specifically LinkedIn and Yammer. We have experience with both, and would recommend these as easy launching points for companies who are just getting their toes wet.

Don’t forget – you can follow Bing on Twitter and Flickr.