Social Networking Sites For Business Is The Next Big Thing
By day Parohinog is the director of the Institutional Linkages Office at De La Salle University in Dasmarinas, Cavite . But during breaks and other free time, she manages her own virtual shop Online Bazaar, promoting it mainly on Multiply site.
Online Bazaar sells a variety of goods on the Internet, including shoes, bags, clothes, books, health, beauty and wellness products, toys and other items. Last year when her business was just a year old, Parohinog was recognized as "seller of the month" by auction.ph for her online shop, the local version of EBAY.
“I had a lot of stuff that was just lying lazily at home," Parohinog said. "That is why I started a garage sale, and then [used] text and email brigades to promote my stuff. The modern technology just provided me an opportunity to explore other income generating endeavors while I work full time."
She said that she has a knack for marketing and selling. Parohinog added that she also deals well with people, even those she does not know.
Even though she only works on her business part-time during breaks, she said she earns about P3,000 to P5,000 a month.
Actually, Parohinog is just one of the thousands of Filipinos who have parttime businesses that use social networking sites. Besides Multiply, the other popular sites include MySpace, Facebook and Friendster. All of them have attracted millions of users around the world -- including a number of entrepreneurs like Parohinog.
According to a 2007 research article posted on the website of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, hundreds of social networking sites exist offering all sorts of features and other offerings. For example, several sites incorporate new information and communication tools, such as mobile phone connectivity, blogging, photo and video-sharing capabilities and other features that allow members to sell or trade goods.
Most sites support the maintenance of pre-existing social networks and some are commonly used to put up or advertise a business online and that made the Multiply site popular. Multiply is a blog site that is famously and usually used by people, especially teenagers, who sells or trade products through online.
According to a report posted on pinoy.org, Multiply founder Peter Pezaris said that out of 12.5 million subscribers, 3.5 million are based in the Philippines . He added that the Philippines is the second-largest market for Multiply in the world, after the United States.
Online shops appear as a trendy and convenient way for small entrepreneurs to start an enterprise without having to invest huge sums.
Multiply and other social networking sites have simplified the process of starting a business. An entrepreneur just needs to create an account, and then allow his or her creativity to take over. Many sites allow members to custom design their pages, making them attractive to their intended customers.
For example, Parohinog added music in her business’ homepage so that people wont get bored browsing on her site. Some would designed it with customize photos.
Trendy shirts, cool sneakers, stylish accessories, imported bags and dresses are just some of the basic products that are sold online.
Parohinog said that the good thing about online shop is "you don’t need to maintain an actual shop and personnel to showcase your products. You just need a computer, an Internet connection, a camera, and some extra time and you are ready to go."
"You also get to expand your network and meet a lot of people who could help you in your other endeavors, such as community work and outreach programs for which I am also active with,” she added.
The part-time businesswoman also considers personal steps on creating an online shop and first, people must decide on what product to sell, who to sell them to, how to market your product and the image that you would like to carry, and where to sell your products.
People must also decide on the amount of time they would like to invest in their online shop and how they would manage their schedule. Also, they should make sure that they have resources in place to make their selling efficient and effective such as camera, pc, internet connection, etc, Parohinog added.
Parohinog also made clear that making the transaction easier when it comes to mode of payment would also help the business become stable.
“People who would want to start this kind of business should have a regular check of their site for possible comments and inquiries that are coming from potential customers and they should maintain good relations with their clients by providing products with high quality, excellent conditions, and best and honest service,” said Parohinog.
Carleen Manuel, a student and another online shop owner, said that it is important that the products that someone who was planning to start an online shop was unique and something that cant be found in an ordinary shop.
Manuel is an 18-year old seller of Lolita fashion items like petticoats, high heeled-boots, skirts and aristocratic-looking tops in cheap prices.
“As long as your products are distinctive, you won’t find it hard to find customer, most of shoppers that would go in my site are addicted to Japanese craze and those whose hobby was to join cosplays [anime-related events],” said Manuel.
Manuel said that the usual problems she encounters in her online shop is dealing with inconsistent costumer for example, a client already confirmed yet backed out at the time that Manuel have marked that certain product sold out or reserved.
Manuel and Parohinog with other thousand of owners of online shop are making shopping easier to students and corporate people. Also, they are standing as an inspiration to those people who want to start their own business.
Parohinog said that she is planning to add more essential yet cheap products for her customer and future clients.
By Pete Almonte