Larry BraunerEven people who don’t go online and don’t understand social networking have heard of MySpace or Facebook, names that might conjure up fears of predators or identity theft.

However, that’s not my point.

My point is that MySpace and Facebook are so much talked about that they have pretty much become household names, and serious business networkers have or ought to have a presence at MySpace, Facebook and Linked In — and at other major social networking sites.

Many of the important online networking sites are listed for your convenience:

There are also industry specific sites. For example if your business is real estate related, consider joining ActiveRain Real Estate Network and Wanna Network, if you don’t already belong.

To find business networking sites specific to any industry, try plugging the industry name and the words “networking sites” into your favorite search engine.

But wait, the story doesn’t end here.

Smaller and newer business networking sites also deserve to be included in your online portfolio. After all, less can be more.

When Diane Hochman Zigs, I Zag

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman, the founder and director of My Private Classroom for Marketers, often instructs, “Don’t Follow the Flock”. When others are zigging, you zag.

Diane is a Web 2.0 social media rock star. Many people follow her every move. They go where she goes. They do what she does. They zig when she zigs, and they zag when she zags.

People like Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard have their own flocks. Since I don’t want to follow the flock, nor live in somebody’s shadow, when Diane and Mike zig, I zag.

When they’re hanging at Facebook and Twitter, I’m chillin’ at one of the newer smaller sites such as Sta.rtUp.biz, a site that caters to small business entrepreneurs, or Natural Networkers, a social networking site for proponents of attraction marketing.

I might also be list building at Direct Matches or schmoozing at Yuwie, since they are not.

I think you get the general idea. It fits in with my online social networking strategy and my personal branding strategy. It’s common sense. I have plenty of room to maneuver.

You too might be best off charting a different course than your competition or industry leaders.

Choosing Business Networking Sites

There are many possible criteria for choosing business sites. However, at the end of the day it’s largely a matter of trial and error.

Nevertheless, let me share a few of my considerations with you. Perhaps I’ll share more in a future blog post.

Some social networking sites are funded by membership fees, some by advertising, and some by a combination of the two. I mainly prefer advertising supported sites. I’m not typically reaching out to a very elite crowd.

I do admit, I was a paid Executive Member at Direct Matches for three years. I highly valued the package of services they provided, and I appreciated Bill Weber’s personal touch. You can join Direct Matches for free.

I don’t pay to use any social networking sites at the present time. All the networking sites I use are either ad supported or offer free memberships that I find suitable.

Some networking sites make it easier to connect than others. I like to reach out to a large audience and prefer sites that make it easy for me to do that.

I like to be able to browse and add friends or contacts by demographic characteristics or by geographic location. When sites offer that option, it’s great. When they don’t, I look to a site’s groups or clubs to find people in my target market.

I recommend that you explore Ning social networking sites. While they do not support demographic browsing, but they are nevetheless very useful for business networking.

Short Lived Networking Feature

Some new social networking sites let me send mail to all my contacts or to all members of groups to which I belong. I love this capability and use it effectively without abusing or spamming.

I like to let lots of people know about my new blog posts. If I didn’t have a blog, I’d send links to useful information and thereby build my relationship with fellow members.

Unfortunately, as a networking site grows, spammers inevitably move in and ruin it for everybody. It’s impossible to keep a step ahead of them, so all sites eventually limit or eliminate this wonderful feature.

Don’t Let Spammers Ruin Your Day

I don’t like spammers and wish they’d stick with safelists or classified ads, but I don’t let them ruin my day, nor do I let them dissuade me from using any particular social networking site.

If I can cope with tailgaters and drivers who cut me off on the highway, I can surely cope with spammers.

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Larry Brauner

How I Use Social Networking Sites

I wouldn’t start a blog called Online Social Networking if I didn’t like social networking sites.

Let’s look at some of the ways that I use social networking sites to meet my business networking objectives.

Casting a Wide Net

I join a wide range of social networking sites. I know that even if I will not be active at a particular social site, the profile I set up there will add to my online presence. So if I like the site, I’ll become part of the community. If I don’t, there’s no harm. My profile will remain there as long as the site continues to operate.

When you Google me, you’ll find page after page of results that are me. What happens when people Google you?

Joining a bunch of social networking sites should jump start your web presence. It’ll give you some Google juice. Why not join some of my favorite social networking sites featured on my blog’s sidebar? As a plus, in most cases we’ll automatically be connected as “friends”.

Building Large Targeted Lists

When I like a social networking site, I settle in and become part of the community.

A winning strategy on nearly all social networking sites is to build a large targeted list of friends or contacts, generally the larger the better. Thousands are better than hundreds.

For some sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Yuwie there are friend adders, but I don’t like to use them. I prefer the personal touch, and I don’t want to risk losing my profile for suspected spamming. I spend a modest amount of time each day requesting new friends on each of my favorite social networking sites.

There are two ways that I target my requests.

On sites that allow profile browsing by specific demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, marital status, and parental status, I browse to find people to add.

On sites that have groups or clubs I browse the groups that are likely to attract the people I’m looking for.

I tend to accept nearly all add requests from others. I reject blatant spammers, men masquerading as women in order to attract favorable attention, and crazies.

Networking and Attraction Marketing

Social networking sites are meant for online social networking and not for advertising or spamming. They’re a great place to get to know people. You get to know people by asking them questions.

Please visit or revisit my earlier post, Social Networking vs. Advertising, for a full explanation of this absolutely crucial concept.

Social networking sites are also great from attraction marketing. Be the type of person you want to attract, and that person will be attracted to you.

Videos of you presenting useful information or explaining an important idea, not making a sales pitch, can showcase you as the knowledgeable leader you are.

Blogging is a big part of my branding strategy, so when I network online, I invite people to visit my blog, read, comment and register or subscribe. And many do.

I invite people I like on one social networking site to connect with me on another site. I don’t want to lose track of them if the first site closes down or if one of us happens to have his or her profile deleted. And yes, many do… connect that is.

At Direct Matches, I invite people to visit my profile page where I have a subscription form, and people can sign up for my training newsletter. And again, many do.

Every time people go along with my request, they’re opting in another time to our relationship. It’s sort of like dating.

Branding Yourself

Social networking sites, video sites and blogs are great for personal branding. In fact, your whole online presence can serve as a branding mechanism.

Craft your personal branding strategy and develop a web presence that is consistent with your strategy.

Being Consistent and Following Through

Possibly the most important online social networking strategy is to be consistent and follow through, not to expect instant results.

First you need to build your list, and then you need to gain credibility with the people on it.

When I’ve tried to push things, people sensed it. When I’ve been patient, people have often come to me, and what could be better than that?

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Is ASD Real or Just a Scam or Ponzi Scheme?
Reading Down to End of Comments is a MUST !

My May 6 post, The SpiderWeb Marketing System, garnered many readers, especially from search engines.

While I expressed some concerns over the Spider Web program, I never implied that it was a pyramid or scam. My issues with Spider were the hype, the spam and the choice of GDI as a web hosting platform for their blogs. It was the spam over at Direct Matches, one of my favorite social networking sites, that first grabbed my attention.

A recent unexpected development however has dramatically hurt the growth of the Spider Web just as it was starting to gain steam. The SpiderWeb Marketing System is facing some serious competition from a program that may be little more than the latest money scheme and perhaps the next 12 Daily Pro.

Andy Bowdoin Launches ASD at ASDCashGenerator.com

The get-rich-quick crowd has welcomed the new ASD Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator with open arms. With oil prices moving up and real estate prices moving down who wouldn’t want to make a quick buck?

If you could spend a few hours a week viewing ads and make a load of money without having to recruit a single person, wouldn’t you at least want to check it out? I know I would.

So yours truly put on his business analyst hat, transfered $30 to his Alert Pay account, and gave that money over to ASD so that he could report back to you first hand with the inside story.

Here’s the story. You decide for yourself whether ASD is the real deal, another scam or something in-between.

The ASD Business Proposition

ASD purports to sell website traffic and to rebate a percentage of the sale price to qualified members. The rebate percentage is currently set at 125%, and amount tied in to new sales volume and subject change in the future. To qualify, members log on and surf 24 sites of other members daily for 125 days.

My Evaluation Criteria

My research and analysis of ASD Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator focused on answering some important questions.

ASD claims to be in the business of selling website traffic. Is their advertising a reasonable value at the price asked, or would it sell only to people hoping to make money from the ASD rebate scheme?

ASD shares revenue from new business by paying rebates. Can ASD sustain itself without continually recruiting new members? Can rebates adequately compensate members for the use of their funds, their time and for the associated risks?

Traffic Exchange Visits

Website visits provided by traffic exchange schemes are very much untargeted and incentivized. Moreover, such visitors are typically multi-tasking while plodding their way through the required website rotation.

I want to be generous rather than conservative in my assessment. If you could make a perfect match between the ASD viewing membership and your target websites, each visit to your sites might be worth as much as a nickel. While it’s likely to be less, let’s tentatively assess the value of a page visit as $0.05.

ASD charges $1.00 per page visit. There is a large 20-to-one discrepancy between price and value. If you can find me somebody who’s genuinely prepared to spend a dollar for one traffic exchange site visit, put us in touch. I have a bridge I’d like to show him.

Seriously, nobody in his right mind would pay more than pennies for a traffic exchange visitor.

I have to conclude that members are paying ASD for the privellege of making money from rebates or recruiting — and not for website visits. It appears that ASD is in the money business and not in the advertsing business.

If government authorities reach a similar conclusion, they could rule that ASD handles investments and is threrfore subject to the purview of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC). Such a ruling would not be favorable in the least for ASD nor for ASD’s membership.

Sustainability

In a video Andy Bowdoin explains that, unlike 12 Daily Pro, ASD doesn’t make payments to members at a fixed rate, and that it may not continue to make payments in the future. I appreciate that Andy was up front in raising the possibility that ASD as we know it today may not be sustainable long-term.

Andy’s disclaimer may allow ASD to comply with anti-pyramid statutes today and to bow out in the future if new sales ever decline sharply.

ROI Return on Investment

Whether money paid to ASD legally constitutes an investment or not, I’m not competent to decide.

However, to qualify for rebates members need to surf through a rotation of 24 sites each day. Given the slow speed of ASD’s site and frequent hiccups, it takes about three hours per week to run their Cash Generator.

How much is three hours of your time weekly worth to you? $50? $100? More?

If you’re buying rebates, not advertising, you need to figure the value of your time. The amount of rebates you will earn relative to the value of the time you spend determines whether or not ASD is profitable for you.

Your profit threshold will probably not be the same as mine. It might be higher, or it might be lower.

Just as an example, let’s suppose that you would like to earn $35 per hour, and any benefit you get from your advertising you’ll accept, and consider it gravy.

Math-phobics may skip this part if absolutely necessary.

You consider the possibility of purchasing 500 units for $500. Each day you receive $5 which is one percent of the principal.

$4 of the $5 is recovery of principal, not profit. 125 days times $4 equals your original $500.

$1 of the $5 is your daily profit, so each week your earn $7.

You want to earn $105 or three-hours times $35. You’ll need to invest 15 times as much or $7,500.

Invest $7,500 and do the required surfing. You’ll earn $105 profit per week.

Invest less, you’ll earn less.

If you don’t have much money, you won’t make much. If you do, you probably have better things to do with it and prefer not to devote a month per year of productive time to this type of risky project.

Risk Management

Yes, there’s definitely a considerable risk factor. I’m not going to call Ad Surf Daily Cash Generator a scam, but I’m telling you… It is risky.

You might not recover your $7,500 or earn the 25% bonus of $1,875.

You have to account for risk and plan for it — if you can. You can try Lloyd’s of London if you need help.

Sure everybody’s making money now. Some are making tons of money, but will ASD last indefinitely?

Perhaps not.

Every gambler who makes money at Las Vegas faces the same dilemma: cash out or let it ride.

There were many people who made big money at 12 Daily Pro and many other high yield income programs (HYIP’s) that circled the globe a couple of years ago.

And there were people who lost. Some of them lost a lot.

A Few Quirks

Like most other growing sites ASDCashGenerator.com can be very slow. They’re upgrading their servers, but their upgrades will soon need upgrades. You’ll have to be patient.

It can take days for your payment to show up in their system. Perhaps some things are done manually. Submit a support ticket and be patient.

I created a unique e-mail address just for ASD and received an unsolicited business offer from a woman oversees sent to that address a couple of days after registering. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that my sponsor exposed my address when sending a group e-mail.

I requested to buy 30 units of advertising but received only 28. I guess they took $2 as a processing fee.

A Major Fallacy

I hear people explaining that they already made their money back, and that they’re playing with profit as if the profit isn’t their own money.

You can take your profit and do something for yourself or your family. It definitely is your money just as much as your original principal was. If you throw it away, you’re throwing away your money, not ASD’s or anybody else’s.

It Boils Down to Using Common Sense

You don’t have to be a top business analyst to figure these kinds of things out.

My Private ClassroomIf you get down to the basics and avoid the hype, you can make excellent business decisions. As my mentor Diane Hochman, founder of My Private Classroom, says, “Use your common sense.”

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Larry Brauner

Yesterday I was asked how it is that I’ve learned so much so quickly about social media marketing and search engine optimization.

My response was simple.

I learn from reading many books, e-books and blogs, and from speaking frequently with friends and mentors. Having mentors has greatly shortened my learning curve.

I do admit that I am a much more focused learner than the average person. I was able to finish high school math at 15 and by 19 I was one of the top chess players in New York.

As an adult I’ve gone on to acquire skills and expertise in many areas including business analysis, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and online social networking at social networking sites, the original motivation for this site.

One of my greatest teachers and mentors was Eric Marder, founder of Eric Marder Associates and my employer for 23 years. One fundamental thing he taught me about business was that I should always seek the truth.

At 56, I still place a very high priority on continuing education, personal development and masterminding with my mentors and peers. You can ask any of the friends with whom I consult most often, David Alexander, Ivo Jackson, and Tom Long.

Other friends and mentors whom I wish to acknowledge:

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman of My Private Classroom, like myself, offers free tele-seminars and webinars. To receive announcements and invitations to these classes, join my e-mail list at my free social media training site.

I used to recommend the training Bill Arnold offers through Network Success Builders, but came to realize, as I wrote in Orovo and Network Success Builders, that Network Success Builder’s training was mediocre and that Bill Arnold lacked personal and business integrity.

Make a commitment to read at least one business or marketing book each month. Choose mentors to guide you and then set aside time each week to learn something from them.

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Larry Brauner

I strive to write upbeat online social networking posts. However, sometimes I have to publish a bad report.

I told you that I had found the social networking site Wowzza Disappointing. I decided to withdraw during Wowzza’s 10-day grace period, and I expected to receive a refund.

When my refund wasn’t issued after more than a week, I contacted Jim Vigilante, the site’s founder, who said that he would look into it for me.

Last week I wrote him again. This time I did not receive a reply.

If I eventually receive my refund, I’ll post a comment to this article to let you know. As of now both social networking sites, Wowzza and Zion 5, are suspect.

If you already belong to either of them, enjoy! No need to quit.

But if you haven’t joined them, you should consider taking your online social networking business elsewhere.

Don’t miss any posts. Register, it’s easy, or subscribe to my RSS feed!

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History Repeating Itself
Reading Down to the End of the Comments is a MUST !

Pay It Forward for Profits, a quasi downline club pretending to be a funded proposal, collapsed last year. I hoped people would learn a lesson from it.

Members were funneled into marginal programs such as GDI and Empowerism for the sake of the income streams they provided — and perhaps too because the Pay It Forward founders had a prior interest in those programs. Members had sought to promote their primary businesses when joining PIF4P, but that idea typically got lost in the shuffle.

My Private ClassroomAs Diane Hochman used to teach in My Private Classroom webinars, marketing systems are simply not sustainable. They implode once a large enough number of users adopt or tout the system.

Rather than develop or teach systems and shortcuts, Diane Hochman and I teach key leadership skills and offer excellent social media marketing training.

After all, isn’t it better to invest a few months to develop strong marketing and communication skills that will serve us a lifetime than to invest the same effort in a system that might make us a few fast bucks if we’re lucky?

It’s not good to rely solely on a marketing system to build a business, but when the system itself is the product, as was the case with Pay It Forward for Profits, then the ultimate end comes quickly, usually within a year or two, and the program is completely wiped out.

Unfortunately most people don’t learn. They blame their result on bad luck or external circumstances and jump on one of the next bandwagons to come along.

As Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and new marketing schemes appear every week.

Caution Recommended

What’s astonishing about The Spiderweb Marketing System is how closely it resembles Pay It Forward. When I signed up and looked inside, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was GDI front and center, just as it was in PIF4P.

That’s where the automated blogs are set up. Global Domains is the first paid component of this free system.

Hmm. Did I just say that?

I guess the system isn’t free. Users buy overpriced web services for $10 per month from GDI in order to use The SpiderWeb Marketing System.

When you get to the Direct Matches* sign up, you really can sign up for free. However, if you do, you won’t be able to implement the Direct Matches piece of the traffic system — better pay another $10 per month for that. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

Ever hear of bait-and-switch?

Sorry. Let’s call it upsell.

There are multiple income streams — some pretty good. And there’s no made-up story about funded proposals like with Pay It Forward for Profits — also good. However, I wish they were up front about the cost. Spider Web is not a free system.

Many people will join Spider looking for multiple streams of income, but instead they’ll find themselves saddled down with multiple streams of outgo.

Oh, there is one other thing. In addition to clogging the Direct Matches MyMail system with spammy messages, The SpiderWeb Marketing System is a proponent and proliferator of automated blogs.

An automated blog is a system generated blog. The system creates the blog and pumps posts into the blogosphere faster than you can say “global warming”.

I just though of a name for this new phenomenon, it’s a blog infestation.

Okay. Needs some work. Give me some time. I’ll think of a better one.

All kidding aside, I can’t understand why somebody would want to spend hours spamming members at Direct Matches and Yuwie while polluting the blogosphere on auto-pilot.

There’s a moral issue too which I hope to discuss in detail in a future post. For now, consider this. When somebody visits a blog, they assume that it’s the journal of a real live person — not the fiction of a computer program. How can this type of impersonation be right?

Kimball Roundy, creator of the Spider System, has given us something interesting to watch. We’ll get to see how Google and the other search engines cope with his quasi-blogs and how visitors react to them as well. We’ll also get to see if automated blogs are really scalable and if a substantial numbers of people actually make money with them.

Meanwhile please be careful. If you see a low hanging spider web, duck!

Speaking of ducks, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. I wish we could still say that about a blog. ;-)

*Direct Matches happens to be one of my favorite social networking sites. Too bad it’s going to be overrun yet again with spammers. I was so relieved when Pay It Forward fell by the wayside. Now I’ll have to put up with another wave of spamming for a year or so until The Spider Web Marketing System runs its course.

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I just made my first video, a replay of my August 8, 2007 conference call.

It’s too long to upload to YouTube, so I uploaded it to Google.

It’s all about offline and online social networking, and about how networking differs from advertising. Hope you like it!

I recommend looking and listening, especially if you’ve ever used Direct Matches or any of the other social networking sites. Without further ado, here’s my video.

If it doesn’t play right away, try again. Google sometimes needs coaxing. If the situation gets desperate, download it from the Online Social Networking video archive.

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