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Social Networking Sites – How They Differ & What Thay Offer

by on February 21, 2010

Social Networking Sites (SNSs) are used for personal use and interaction with other people of similar interest, but also for professional networking, contributing in discussion forums, forming communities to meet and discuss a common interest, sharing videos and pictures and so on. According to the article Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship SNSs have attracted millions of users ever since the first recognizable SNS was launched in 1997. Most of the people today make sure to stay online on these sites or regularly check for updates on business as well as personal fronts. Due to this fact, a major percentage of users have made these sites a part of their daily practices. More interestingly, apart from being on social networking sites just for the sake of staying abreast with current affairs and staying in touch with people you know, it is also a sort of addiction to individuals who long to keep a check regularly.

Different types of Social-Networking Sites
Today, we have a significant number of Social-Networking sites on the web that vary in the interests and practices they support focusing on their respective audience. They are chiefly of three kinds:
• SNSs of formal nature,
• SNSs of informal nature, and
• SNSs of semi-formal nature.

The first type is social-networking sites of a formal nature. These are usually used for staying in touch with existing business contacts and making new ones as well. These include websites like LinkedIn and PartnerUp. These sites usually focus on an audience with specific interests. The second type of social-networking sites is those which are informal in nature. These sites usually focus on networking with friends and acquaintances in general and making new contacts with people of interest. The point to note is that unlike formal SNSs, here the interest can be of a vast variety which might include anything from having the same favorite book to liking the same music to dating options and so on. An individual may also have his business colleagues in his friend list but the whole idea of being on such SNSs is informal online networking. Some examples of such sites are Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, MySpace, and Flicker. The third, and last, type of social-networking sites is semi-formal SNSs. As the name suggests, these SNSs are usually a blend of the formal and informal networking styles. The closest examples to support this argument are that of social-networking sites called Ibibo and Twitter.

How to use Social-Networking sites for one’s benefit
A very interesting article called Using Social Media to connect with other Entrepreneur throws light on how an individual can use Social-Networking Sites like Facebook, Twitter etc, to follow the entrepreneurs of companies and to establish contacts with them. This article highlights four points which are as follows:
• Follow entrepreneurs on Twitter
• Connect with communities of entrepreneurs
• Find local events through social media
• Simply reach out to people

Here the author, Michael Cohn, discusses how individuals can locate the entrepreneurs on sites like Twitter and establish contact with them by personally approaching them through email and phone. Next, he talks about establishing connections with these entrepreneurs by learning about them on sites like PartnerUp, TheFunded and Hacker News. This way the individual can learn about their areas of interest by reading their feedback and comments on various articles. Thirdly, the author talks about how social media like SNSs Meetup and Facebook can be a good source to discover the latest events where entrepreneurs come and it gives a chance to meet them face-to-face. Lastly, this article discusses that after finding the entrepreneurs one should establish personal contact with them.

Apart from using SNSs for networking with professionals, they can also be used for the following:
Microblogging – It is a form of blogging but its content is a lot smaller. A microblog entry can be short sentences, images or videos. On Popular sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, microblogging is known as status messages. Here people share their opinion and other users can comment with their ideas on these opinions. The use of microblogging has been explored during crisis situations like Mumbai terror attacks when people had updated their status messages and formed communities to condemn the attacks.[Source] Companies are also using this feature in popular SNSs for marketing purposes to get a public and customer view and feedback on their products.

Customer outreach tool – According to the article Are Social Networking Sites Useful for Business? on Business Weekly talks about how sites like Facebook & LinkedIn are the new and smart ways to reach customers and used for promotions of some kind or the other.

Collaboration – In the article Social Networking Changing Face of Collaboration it the author John Fontana talks about how the ways collaboration are changing. It conveys that SNSs have improved enterprise collaboration due to which user are benefited as they are able to reach distributed tools more effectively.

Conclusion
Social-Networking sites have impacted the way we communicate and interact over the internet in a dramatic way. They have brought all possibilities that the Internet provided into a single platform. Today, thanks to SNSs, people all over the world can interact with people with similar interests in every possible way. SNSs have revolutionized the process of information exchange and are far more powerful, fast and feasible than the current mode of communication over the Internet like e-mail and chat. SNSs are the next phase in the process of evolution of the World Wide Web.

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3 Comments
  1. Sanjeevi Sturges permalink

    Thanks for noticing my comment on your other post and writing this great summary. You really cover a lot. I like the walk-through on “How to use Social-Networking sites for one’s benefit.” It’s so crazy how many uses and areas these things have worked their way into.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Sanjeevi

  2. SNSs could be a good way of networking. But contacting with so many friends on the internet could result information overload and in most of scenarios, showing face to face courtesy could be more efficiency. It is hard to ignore the favor from real environment. Anyway, SNSs did give us more chances to connect the world. But sometimes, I prefer calling and face to face interaction.

  3. Surry Jones permalink

    What is interesting with the different social networking sites (formal, semi-formal, informal) is how, ultimately, the friend lists in each will blend and will help to shape the tool in the future. The privacy settings have become so granular in sites like Facebook that you can still have your boss as your “friend” and not allow them to see certain sections that you may want to keep private.

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