How can businesses leverage social networks?

Here’s an interesting article from Harvard Business School about uses of social networks and their implications for businesses.  Businesses can leverage social networks and their users, but can’t use standard web advertising techniques.  After all, when was the last time you clicked on or even noticed an ad on Facebook?

The biggest discovery: pictures. "People just love to look at pictures," says [Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan]Piskorski. "That’s the killer app of all online social networks. Seventy percent of all actions are related to viewing pictures or viewing other people’s profiles."


Piskorski has also found deep gender differences in the use of sites. The biggest usage categories are men looking at women they don’t know, followed by men looking at women they do know. Women look at other women they know. Overall, women receive two-thirds of all page views.

…[F]irms will need to start making changes to the products themselves to make them more social…