Are we underestimating Skype’s potential as a social network?

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One thing missing from most social networking sites is the most basic form of communication: talking. Sure, conversations are happening all the time, but generally take on a written form as opposed to a verbal one. Online sharing platforms (that don’t involve actual speech) are increasingly becoming the commonly and socially accepted way to converse.

To let people know where we are, we check in. To arrange or RSVP to a party or event, we do so on Facebook, or Google+. To tell our friends about an awesome new product, we tweet it, and to give our boyfriends birthday present ideas or even plan a wedding, we pin pictures on a virtual pinboard. Teens of today have conversations with their friend next to them via BBM or other text messaging services.

It seems that the spoken word seems to be dying off and losing its powerful role in how we communicate. If you discount Skype, that is.

Talk the talk

One of the biggest benefits Skype has over any other social networking channel (and yes it is a social networking channel) is its availability to deliver real-time, high quality audio and visual communication.

Personally I love having meetings on Skype. I don’t have to go anywhere and I don’t have to get dressed. That’s until the person you’re meeting with asks you to go in video chat and then one’s pink pyjamas and lack of makeup gets a bit embarrassing.

Convenience aside, Skype really enables you to connect no matter where you are in the world. Sure it’s been around for years, and this isn’t anything new, but Skype seems to be playing a more predominant role in the business world.

Think global

As companies expand and start doing business on a global front, Skype eliminates geographical borders and allows for seamless communication between employees, offices or regions.

Another great aspect is that Skype makes collaboration that much easier. If you share a document via Skype it comes through immediately — unlike email where there is often a substantial lag, especially across time zones.

Will Skype become the ad world’s next billboard?

It will be interesting to watch this space as Skype looks like it’s going to be allowing ads into your conversations. Users may not take kindly to being served ads while on conference calls where they’re trying to close a major deal, or parents Skyping children across the world, hoping for some quality time and then getting bombarded with the latest Verimark-type product.

That aside, Skype is still the only social networking channel that delivers an effective real-time audio and conferencing communication tool, while still remaining social.

By linking to your Facebook profile, you are able to Skype Facebook contacts as you would a regular Skype contact, with one smooth clean interaction.

If it’s smart, perhaps Skype can do a Google and serve ads based on consumer profiles or interests. I’m still not convinced this is a space for advertising, but let’s see. It might just allow Skype to compete with the big dogs in the social networking realm.

So if you’re a Skype junkie and like to be face to screen rather than face to face, have a look at some tips and trips from Mashable on how to boost your Skype talk time.

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