External public social networking services, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Friendster, can be valuable sales, marketing, and support tools. The friend-of-a-friend (FOAF) trust model that connects social network users together presents marketers and advertisers with a potentially lucrative audience for promoting goods and services. However, this same trust model can lead to inappropriate connections between business contacts and personal contacts.
This research note includes:
- A detailed explanation of how social networks function, especially the FOAF trust model.
- A discussion of some valid business scenarios using public social networks.
- Key considerations and recommendations for implementing business use of public social networks.
Careful analysis of target customer segments, segment-specific goals, and social network user demographics must be conducted before adopting these networks for business purposes.