When it comes to social networking, often the emphasis gets put on "social."
If used correctly, though, the social networking can amplify a career or promote a business. Several Chattanooga enterprises have taken advantage of social media and have tips for how you can do the same.
Facebook is known for its ability to connect you to your friends, but it can also be a great place to promote yourself, your business or your latest project.
*If you have a business or project to promote, create a Facebook fan page or cause page. "Our Facebook fan page has really taken off," Thom Benson, communications manager at the Tennessee Aquarium, said. "Right now we have over 20,000 fans. We keep it updated with pictures, but sometimes our fans share their own pictures and videos as well."
* Offer Facebook fans and friends incentives to keep up with your page. "We offer coupons and bargains through Facebook," Mr. Benson added.
* Be aware of any questionable content on your Facebook page. "The lines between the personal and the professional are very much blurring," said Kevin Trowbridge, communications professor at Lee University in Cleveland. "Once you put something out there, anyone can see it."
LinkedIn: Perhaps a more obvious choice for professional networking, LinkedIn offers an outlet for professionals to post their accomplishments and credentials while simultaneously "linking" with other professionals in various fields.
* Treat LinkedIn like your online resume -- don't be shy about listing accomplishments and be thorough with previous and current employment details, users say.
* Businesses should not shy away from LinkedIn, either. "You can set up a LinkedIn account for a business or for an individual," said Kelley Nave, director of public relations at United Way of Greater Chattanooga.
* Search for former classmates. In addition to reestablishing contact, you never know what connections or opportunities you may hold for one another.
* Micro-blogging site Twitter is quickly becoming one of the most powerful networking tools on the Internet, thanks largely to its efficiency at providing real-time updates.
* If you have a new project or product you would like to share, tweet it and encourage followers to re-tweet the message. "It's surprising, to me, how many of the tweets we send out are re-tweeted by other folks," Mr. Benson said.
* Melissa Siragusa, marketing and media relations specialist at the Chattanooga Market, said she uses Twitter to update followers on what's going on at the market. "We're also able to get feedback, positive and negative, from followers and can answer questions," she said.
One of the easiest ways to promote yourself is by keeping a blog, experts say. A simple and widely-used blog platform is WordPress.
* Blog about your field. It shows potential employers that not only do you care about your work, you also possess a keen enough knowledge to write about it. "It's about sharing information that is relevant and useful," Mr. Trowbridge said.
* Read related blogs. Seeing what other professionals in your field are talking about gives you a better perspective and an expanded knowledge of your work.
*Keep customers, clients or potential employers updated. "We recently started blogging about our projects and what's going on in our office," Mrs. Nave said.
Mrs. Nave sees having a "unified social media front," integrating Twitter, Facebook and other networks to work with one another, as being the best way to take advantage of new online marketing techniques.
"In this age of having fewer employees and having less money, social media can be an effective marketing and cost-cutting tool," Mrs. Nave said. "It's very efficient and makes your communications more directed."
Other networks worth exploring:
*Flickr, an online photo-hosting Web Site.
*Tumblr, a simple blogging platform for audio, text, photos and videos.
*YouTube, for online video sharing.