Last weekend I finally got around to watching “The Social Network,” which, if you haven’t seen it, is a sensationalized account of the founding and rise of Facebook. In one scene, two of founder Mark Zuckerburg’s Harvard classmates are explaining to the dean that Facebook (which was actually their idea), could potentially be worth millions of dollars. To which the dean replies, “You must just be letting your imaginations run away with you.” We all know how that turned out: Facebook’s value just reached $50 billion. But, who could have ever predicted the integral role the Internet (and social networking) would eventually play in everyday life?

In 1995, Newsweek published an essay titled “The Internet? Bah!” written by Clifford Stoll, an astronomer and amateur computer hacker tracker who had some strong opinions about whether society could benefit from the Internet, which he called “a wasteland of unfiltered data.”

“Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney.”

Another highlight of Stoll’s essay was his assessment of the idea that shopping could be conducted over the Web, of which he said, “Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet – which there isn’t – the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”

Stoll must have spent the next decade with his tail between his legs, witnessing all of these seemingly impossible ideas come to fruition. Sixteen years later, the world has undoubtedly become a digital place, and if you haven’t evolved to keep pace, you’re missing out.

A lot of you probably have a website for your business – a logical move as more and more consumers are opting to bypass the Yellow Pages and head straight to the Web when researching local businesses – but have you also considered how social networking could help you reach customers? Let’s use Facebook as an example, since it’s the most popular social networking site in the world. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. Let’s say you start a page for your business, one of your friends hires you for a job, is ecstatic about the work you’ve done, and posts a glowing review of your services on his wall. That customer’s 130 friends can link directly to your Facebook page with a click – it’s virtual word-of-mouth advertising. Considering Facebook users spend an average of seven hours a month on the site, there is significantly more opportunity to reach consumers than your website alone.

Another example of social networking is the professional forum. Our site, TreeServicesSite.com, offers a place for tree care pros to network on the web, giving you the chance to discuss industry topics with your peers around the country anytime for free, a truly valuable opportunity.

So, despite Clifford Stoll’s predictions a decade and a half ago, we have truly become a digital society. Embrace the advancements in technology, and use them to benefit your business. Also, please stay in touch with Tree Services magazine by “liking” us on Facebook. See you on the Web!

Katie Meyers
Editor
tsletters@MooseRiverMedia.com