Tomorrow is Valentines Day and as the newest member of the Leapfrogg team I thought it would be appropriate that my first blog should tie in well with the ‘love theme.’
As many of you might already know the rapid growth of social networking sites including Myspace.com or Facebook – which have been around for less than four years – have seen more than 100 million and 19 million members respectively set up profiles.
Such social networks are taking the web by storm, pushing at the average time spent online for numerous demographics by allowing users to easily manage their personal data, back up their photos and videos in addition to providing the means to communicate with those both inside and outside of their network – engaging interests and regular socialising. But is it fair to brand these sites and their users as ‘a waste of time’? – both in terms of personal or a business’s time shown on BBC and The Times Online – and if so, then what of the numerous other sites that ‘demand’ our time on the web?
An online poll, originally posted by Lee Odden, with support from the online marketing community would also have use believe that Facebook is losing its luster, but I would have to question whether we are not forgetting the very essence of Facebook and the purpose for which it was born.
With this firmly in mind I would like to share my story. A story of profile viewing, friending, poking, … and ultimately, how social networking changed my life.
I was introduced to Myspace in June 2006 by my younger brother, and promptly set up a profile, and then, out of the blue, a message popped up in my inbox from a nice looking chap wanting to add me as a friend. After reading his detailed profile and browsing his stunning profile picture I couldn’t wait to hit ‘accept’.
At first we bantered with hello’s and the exchange of messages to get to know one another, but as time went our Myspace “friendship” developed, crossing the waters into msn, where we held regular and in-depth conversations. Our relationship was entirely virtual (call it a pre-friendship) as we both ‘put in the ground work’ that was necessary to assess whether we would go the distance and meet one another offline. (But this bares striking similarities to the underlying framework of social networks in that many friends and networks are made up of individuals who have never actually met?)
Far from suggesting that everyone is as genuine as they say they are I felt we had gained a mutual trust and exchanged phone numbers. We spoke on the phone frequently as if we had known each other forever! After about a year and a half we had discussed meeting in the middle as I lived in Suffolk and he lived in Surrey but never came to an outcome.
I took those first steps and, after setting up a profile on Facebook, we arranged to meet at my 21st Birthday party in London, under the watchful eye of my parents. I am happy to say after that one meeting it was the cliché “love at first sight” and with a lot of hard work and travelling, we managed to maintain an 8 month ‘long distance relationship’. Our relationship was further cemented last week as we moved into our first home together.
Social Networking, in my experience, has been the creator of a series of life changing events. I see it as only fate that we met in such a way and even though it’s not an usual way to meet the man of your dreams it certainly worked for me…
But perhaps, like the evoked memories from networking with long lost friends and acquaintances we can never fully relive the experience of the ‘first time’, the excitement we felt when we first joined Facebook in 2007, the initial gold rush – which slowly followed by the onslaught of irrelevant and untargeted marketing.
But saying this, it certainly presents the concept of having a relationship with your customers, and engaging with them in such a way as to have them evangelising about your brand or your products… but, unlike those untargeted and irrelevant marketing efforts I’ve just mentioned, in addition to my relationship, the necessities for success include time, energy, dedication and honesty.