Social Networking Meets VoIP

Updated: May 31, 2007

Say you want to build an online social community, like one of those successful startups all the kids are talking about. You want your users to be able to do all the things social media makes possible: refer friends, send instant messages, exchange profile information, blog, post documents, pictures, podcasts and videos. You also want to exclude those who aren't members of the community, however you end up defining it.

Now you don't have to write your own software, get financial backers, or even run the thing yourself, thanks to turnkey social network providers like yFonGlobal. They'll provide all the software you need and host the service on their own servers. yFonGlobal, based in Washington, D.C., is even adding the ultimate form of online communication to its product line: talking.

When yFonGlobal recently decided to include VoIP in its extensive list of features, it turned to CounterPath for the necessary software. CounterPath, who's customers include some of the biggest telecom companies around, including AT&T and BT, will integrate it into its wyndstorm social media product as a click-to-call function. Running on headset-equipped PCs and branded with the carriers' names, its soft phones let people talk over their broadband Internet connections. The advanced version has so many other capabilities, including conferencing and video communication, that the company insists on calling it a multimedia communicator.

YFonGlobal has good reasons for making the addition. There are multiple reasons you would want to build an online social community, and making a billion dollars or so creating the next Facebook is only one of them. Social networking can be used to build stronger ties with your customers by giving them multiple ways to make or strengthen relationships with other customers. Done correctly, it could make your company's rich Web presence a part of their daily lives, rather than just an online catalog or sales brochure.

It can be used for making your company friendlier to new employees. If you have new workers joining straight out of college, they will most likely have grown up on Facebook and MySpace. In-house social media will ease the culture shock when they look around their cubicles and realize that this is what the next 20 or 30 years of their lives will look like. At the same it can change the way your company communicates and develops ideas, as your employees use social networking skills to, for example, uncover sales prospects faster than cold calling ever could.

Strengthening the ties of a community or organization you already belong to is another advantage. Like yFonGlobal customer Golden Key, an international society of honor students. Providing its 1.7 million members with access to online social media functions will help them communicate and bond better. They'll be able to share information and materials in a variety of new and rewarding ways.

The members, who are scattered among Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, will also be able to make international calls for free. And since students are typically low on cash, the new click-to-call function will open up new communications channels for them.

That is why yFonGlobal is adding VoIP to its offering. Because ultimately, no matter how many pictures, messages and videos people share, the most personal and important form of communication is also the oldest. When people want to make a true connection, they have to talk.

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