By a loose definition Skype can be considered a Social Network. For a start, it is a network in the traditional telecommunications sense. You can make a standard telephone call, you can video call and you can send a Text and Chat. It’s free to use like most Social Media. Added to this that you can set your “Mood” – so it has a Status facility too. But usually, it is not considered or “hyped” as Social Media. Why is this and what does it mean for the typical small business?
Where Skype does differ from say Facebook or Twitter is that it does not leave a public trail that can be searched. While this is good for personal use, it does not help members of the general public to find you, or for you to find members of the general public easily. Generally, you have to know the Skype address of the party you wish to connect to in advance or at least be invited to the call. To repeat, Skype is private in a way that Facebook and Twitter are not. Yes, you can have private Groups on Facebook, but the default position on Facebook is to make posts public and searchable. If your definition of Social Media means “Public Media” then Skype is not Social Media.
Because Skype is essentially private, there isn’t an emphasis selling adverts- which itself is a welcome feature- assuming you are not a business trying to advertise!
Of course, Microsoft, the not so new owners of Skype, could easily turn Skype in to more of a standard Social Media experience. For example, by allowing users to post private conversations (and even video) to a public version of Skype. If this was made searchable by Google using tags, then it would feel much more like a typical Social Media Network. But Microsoft have been smart about this and instead are emphasising the difference. Skype are advertising how much better, “real face to face” video is for keeping in touch with loved ones than using short “text” speech, for example.
But maybe there is a way to combine both aspects of a Public Social network like Facebook and a Private Social Network like Skype. Facebook is already close to Microsoft in a business sense. If you use the Facebook search facility you are using Bing, a Microsoft product. And since 2011, Facebook has made Skype available as part of the Facebook experience. You can Skype call Friends directly from Facebook and see Facebook posts in Skype.
The point is that you can search for contacts on the public Facebook , engage with them and the when you have built up trust, start a private Skype conversation. Is this the best of both worlds for business use?