What is social networking doing to you? A social networking service is an online platform, site or service that targets on reflecting and building of social relations among people or social networks, who may share affiliations and interests. A web-based social network service provides users an interactive venue over the Internet where users share ideas, events and activities. Social networking sites are basically individual-centered services. But today, online community services are incorporated with popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and where you’ll find groups for former classmates, town mates and other group-centered social networking services.

Early socsocial networking(86031)Credit: Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net | http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=721ial networking online communities

Early social networking online communities began as generalized groups focusing on bringing users to interact through chat rooms and encourage members to share ideas and personal information by providing easy to use web space and publishing tools. Some communities simply asked users to link by way of email addresses. Later on, user profiles took center stage in social networking platforms with more features developed to find and manage friends.

Individuals who sign up are encouraged to create profiles with personal information. Users can upload pictures to their profiles, post blog entries, search other users with similar interests, and compile a list of “friends”. In recent years, a wide variety of organizations created profiles for personal services and product advertisements as a social networking and business promotions tool.

Social networking for businesses

The trend of social networking for businesses flourished when companies began to merge business solutions and technologies with social networking concepts. Social networking and business related sites developed interactive communities linking individuals based on shared business experiences. Added features were provided to business users like specialized networking applications and tools accessed via their websites, uploads or live stream of videos and forum discussions.

Mobile social networking

Recently, mobile social networking has also become popular. Users can now create their own profiles, participate in chat rooms, make friends, share blogs, hold private conversations, share photos and videos by using their mobile phones. As the popularity of social networking increases, innovative trends for using technology emerged such as the concept  of “real-time web” which allows users to contribute and broadcast content as it is being uploaded much like the concept of live radio broadcasting and live telecasts in real-time.

Social networking advantages

Several notable social networking advantages in every online community are as follows:

  • Social networking is a cheaper alternative of communication for personal and business use. For businesses, whether on a budget or not, scouting target markets for potential customers or enhancing promotional strategies and advertisements is an easy way to go. Companies find great ways to build their brand image, create brand awareness, establish online reputation, learn about new competitors and technologies, drive traffic to their individual sites to expand local base, intercept potential prospects and learn from clients on how to improve their products and service though advertisements, discussions and forums.
  • Scientific groups in social networking share ideas and expand their knowledge base.
  • Education-based social network sites give educators and students the best communication tool. Professors and teachers use social networks to create forums to extend classroom discussion, to post assignments, tests and quizzes, to assist with homework and to foster teacher-parent communication.
  • Career-based social networking platforms give internship placements for college students and job opportunities for unemployed professionals.
  • Social networking used by various government agencies serves as an easy and quick way to get public opinion and to keep the public updated on their activities.

Disadvantages of social networking

Privacy concern is one of several disadvantages of social networking. There is a growing concern on the dangers of giving out too much personal information leading to unsolicited sexual predators, stalkers, data theft and governmental bodies or large corporations producing profiles behavior on which potentially detrimental decisions may be taken against users.

Another major disadvantage of social networking can be attributed to psychological effects on users that spend excessive amount of time on networking sites leading researchers to debate on Internet addiction as a clinical disorder.

Best Social Networking Sites

What are the best social networking sites? The answer will depend on each individual’s purpose for engaging in one. While social networking sites are considered to be widely accessible, communities use sites to separate themselves by age, educational level, nationality, or other societies and the segregation relatively fetches members who have the same concerns. There are hundreds of networking sites supporting a broad range of practices and interests.

Purpose of Social Networks

The cultures that emerge help users connect based on political views, shared activities or interests. Some sites serve diverse audiences, with nationality sexual, racial, or religious-based identities. Sites also vary to which they incorporate communication tools and new information, such as photo/video-sharing, mobile connectivity, and blogging. Categorically, the purpose for using a site is the gauge for which site is the best to follow:

  • For Finance Purposes

Create new opportunities for global finance with the use of virtual currency systems for transactions among product sales and financial trades, members and carbon credits.

  • For Medical Purposes

Healthcare professionals use social networks as a means to disseminate peer to peer knowledge, highlight individual physicians and institutions and manage formal knowledge. For pharmaceutical companies who have spent about thirty two percent of their budget in marketing is on social networks in an attempt to influence the opinion leaders of social networks.

Some networks help its members with various mental and physical ailments offering the opportunity to connect with other patients of similar issues or research data from patients having a condition related to theirs. For people suffering from life altering diseases, the best sites would be those that give people the ability to communicate with each another and strengthen their recovery through the success stories of others who can relate to their situation.  

  • Social and Political Purposes

A social network gives a value in political and social movements by presenting a platform for numerous users to quickly share videos of main events.

  • Social Networking Job Purposes

Corporate social networking form relationships between employees of a company or people working in other companies in an industry. It is also a great way to make a company known and network in their respective field or industry.

For whatever it is worth or not, and in relevance to the question posted at the top, social networking is a phenomenon that is here to stay and will continue to connect you to people from all walks of life providing the easiest and most affordable medium to keep in touch with the world.

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