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Social Networking Is It For You?

Niche Social Networking Sites for Driving Instructors

New Media on Ulitzer

Niche Social Networking Sites for Driving Instructors
When I mention social networking to driving instructors, most people immediately think of websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo etc which let people create friend lists, send messages and photos to each other, design their own pages, share music, blog, join groups and networks with other like-minded people and just generally keep in touch with those friends, family and work associates they consider to be closest to them.

Images of business opportunities rarely spring to mind, yet many large companies have realised that it's not all about digging, super-poking and playing the world at poker or scrabble, and actually use these social networks and groups to the benefit of their business. The likes of Cadburys promoted their chocolate by creating, submitting and spreading their popular ‘gorilla playing drums' advert for FREE on sites like Facebook and YouTube through the use of viral marketing. YouTube has played the advert 3.4 million times with Facebook and MySpace posting the advert millions of times.

The potential for social networking tools to connect huge numbers of people has been clearly illustrated. Facebook has over 200 million regular users and is in the top 4 used websites world wide with only Google, Yahoo and YouTube - another social networking type site  receiving more hits globally. Companies want to harness those connections themselves to market their products and services.

What is social networking and why do we need it?
Even before I started blogging, digging and nudging my friends on Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Bebo and the new Twitter format I was looking for a cheap media that I could use to get myself heard without the cost of expensive advertising campaigns on the internet and the more traditional Yellow Pages. I worked out some time ago that 97.6% of our staff are members of Facebook which made me think I wish we could have that kind of audience.

I soon found that these sites provide access to a whole generation of on line users that spend hours per day searching their social networks and blogs for new groups and networks to join.

Social networking or blogging can be considered as building up your own personal brand on the internet, and anybody who signs up to a social network is making the decision to create a personal brand or identity about themselves. When you create this on line identity you can represent yourself on the internet on any given network. When people read your profile pages these are the things that people remember when they think of you, and could be things such as your interests, who you are associated with, the topics you blog about, and your professional connections.

What is the benefit of social networking as a driving instructor? Are they just for the new PlayStation generation who like to poke, digg and comment on their friends and others' profiles leaving most people wondering what the point to all these social networking sites is, and how these sites can provide any real benefit to our lives. Is it just a constant stream of useless information and emails telling me I have been left a comment or been sent a nudge? Or are there legitimate uses for social networking? Of course it's not worthless. It's not about having the most friends or sending the funniest comments - it's about building relationships and becoming known within a niche. This niche cannot be highlighted more than as a driving instructor. You have a market of millions of young people who subscribe free to these social networking services looking for groups and networks to join.

Therefore the purpose of social networking as a driving instructor is to start twittering, blogging commenting and participating in on line conversations and activities with your existing pupils and potential new Pupils. Invite your existing pupils to join as a friend. I bet they're already members of a social network. By allowing your pupils to communicate with you more regularly, you will inevitably build up a better rapport with them, and consider this -  I bet there is not a person under the age of 21 who is a member of a social network that does not have less than 50 other friends on the social networking profile.

This opens up a fantastic marketing opportunity for you and if you set up a group, then you will no doubt find that you'll get recommendations and members join your new found community of which many of these will be potential learner drivers. You will also find these profiles and groups are listed in search engines making you able to be found more easily in the likes of Google and Yahoo and you won't have to spend a penny to achieve this. However, there are several things to consider and I would use this analogy. Playing football in the park does not make you a professional footballer and the same principle is true for on line networking. By adding a few friends and occasionally twittering is not going to build your profile, however, the more often you participate in on line networking and brand building via social networking, the more professional opportunities will present themselves to you from being more well-known.

A year ago I decided to  embrace this new found  social networking technology and have been creating InstructorClub - a niche social networking site for driving instructors, driving schools and organisations connected to the driving instruction industry. It provides driving instructors with the tools needed to build their on line social network profile. Driving instructors can now have an on line presence within 5 minutes of registering and build up their own forums and networks within the club.

Take a look at what a social networking site can do for you by logging on to www.instructorclub.co.uk

More Stories By Symon Weedon

Symon Weedon Cert CII is the Marketing Manager of Waveney Group Schemes Ltd a specialist insurance broker proving insurance for driving instructors and driving schools. He has worked in the insurance broking market for over 14 years holding a range of marketing positions and has studied his insurance exams with the Chartered Insurance Institute obtaining the designatory letters Cert CII. Waveney Group Schemes Ltd is Authorised And Regulated by the Financial Services Authority http://www.driving-school-insurance.com

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