This is a social structure which is made up of individuals connected together by some interdependency like friendship, common interest or any kind of relationship that can make the individuals share something in common. A typical social network is composed of individuals called nodes and the connections called ties. The ties involve the interconnections between the individuals.
In our study we are going to carry out a research on social network and how it has impacted the society. We are also going to look at its benefits and analysis of various social networking sites with an evaluation of their statistics and how they operate.
Users of the social networks
All social networks attract different users. The categories are related in terms of age, education, sex, country of origin and other forms of common interest. (Anderson, 2007)
Providers such as Facebook, Friendster and Bebo have grown popular through the seemingly limitless potential of their open, unconstrained networks, enabling millions of users to potentially make contact. It has been identified that there are some associated dangers with ‘open’ networks and the type of content they publish in the public domain. This drives users to also set up personal spaces in ‘closed’ networks such as Window Live Spaces where they feel safer and less prone to unsolicited forms.
For advertisers to really engage in social networks, they need to identify collaborative approaches to get opinion leaders involved with the brand. (Kavanaugh, 1999) Social networkers want to engage with the brand more extensively and the brand has to therefore be prepared to open itself up and invite influential networkers to comment on product development, brand strategy or customer service. (Boyd, 2007) They even need to be given content they can comment on in the public domain to ensure they do not lose the power to control content. This type of relationship allows advertisers to create new forms of business models to incentivize social networkers. (Boyd, 2007) By creating performance related social recommendation incentives advertisers can engage with social networks on a different level and build a community of advocates. (Lecky, 2009) For example, if an advertiser provides an influential social networker with an exclusive preview of a new advertising campaign and he forwards this to his friends, he writes a comment or puts it on his website, the social networker is rewarded for his efforts. Advertisers need to keep in mind that any type of relationship with a social networker has to be transparent to ensure they retain their credibility in their network – therefore the response to any brand could be positive or negative. (McGilvray, 2009)
A strong element of trust exists amongst social networking communities. Forrester states that 80% of consumers trust advice from friends online – that is three times as much trust than in ads via traditional media.2 This trust means social networkers have a strong influence within a community – particularly those driving social recommendation of advertising/brands. (McGilvray, 2009)
Whilst consumers are demonstrating their acceptance of a brand presence in their social network, they do not want a brands communication to be one sided – there is a great opportunity for deep and engaging relationships with brands. Some 73% of UK social networkers have visited a personal space of a brand; and surprisingly 16% have already had a dialogue or sent a message to friend. This reinforces the fact brands have to engage in social networks and be seen to be part of something rather than trying to push the consumer to a brands site. (Reitsma, 2010) Who are the opinion leaders? Advertisers need to understand who the key influencers and informers are. For example, who is talking about the industry, products or competitors; what are they recommending; and through what channels? These people have an influence online and most importantly, people act on their recommendation (Young, 2006)
Social network analysis
Social relationships can be viewed in terms of network theory which consists of nodes and ties. When there is a series of interconnections, the graph is always very complex. There can be very many ties that are involved in a social relationship thus forming a social web with a number of nodes and a corresponding number of ties. A social network is therefore a map of specified ties such as friendships connected together.
Social network is a form of a communal structure which is made up of individuals interconnected together by some specific types of interdependence or interrelationships. A social web is used to refer to the social media. This describes how people interact, communicate and socialize through the use of the internet. This term is usually used to refer to social networking. The social websites are usually formed around the connections of people who have the same kinds of interests. Within the social networks groups are also formed between people who posses some kinds of common interests. There are several types of social networks which are available today. They include but not limited to; facebook, tweeter, MySpace, palblast, Bebo, ebuddy and person.com. social networking can also be called collective intelligence whereby people from different parts of the world come together to share information, photography or even ideas so as to create a bigger invention which could have not been created by a single person. A social web can also be described as people who are interlinked and interacting with engaging content in a conversational manner through the internet. The social web applications are built so as to encourage communication between people
A typical example of a social network web
How the social networks work
A user is prompted to create an online identity/profile. Once the online identity has been created a person can start interacting with people who are also registered in that particular kind of social network.
Benefits of social networking
Lower costs – Employing social networking strategies is cheaper than paying for advertising. Potential customers can be prescreened and a person can learn their likes and dislikes when using social networking. Social networking helps a person to gain personal relationships with his/her customers.
Credibility and trust –
When one connects with people at a personal level, trust and credibility is built.
Helps to make connections with people – A social network helps people with similar interests
Some social networking sites offer advertisements services to their subscribers. Facebook is an example of a way that people can advertise for free. The social networking has also made it possible for people to communicate with each other at a very low cost.
The social networking sites also help students and other groups of people in the community to gain knowledge as information can be freely shared throughout the web.
How to stay safe when using the social networks
Constantly evaluate your social networking account and postings. You should ensure that whichever thing that is posted on your site is safe for viewing with any category of people be it your parents, friends or employers. You should not post any embarrassing information onto your site. This will help in maintaining your reputation and help in maintaining the respect that people have for you.
You should not private information like your cell phone number, home address, class schedule or social plans onto your site for viewing to the public.
You should properly utilize the privacy settings in your account so that you control who to view your postings and when. This will help in controlling some information being leaked to a non intended group of people
Health effects of social Networking
Spending a lot of time on the internet with the social media ma have a long term effect to both the body and the mind.
Some examples of social sites include:
1. Entertainment Networks:
These are sites which offer connections for the purposes of entertainment. They include:
i. MeetUp.com - Meetup.com is a networking site which is used for arranging for meetings of people who are like minded. They earn money from organizations that use their services to organize for meetings.
ii. evite.com – is similar to MeetUp.com but its major work is to create invitations to events. The invitation notifications are then sent to friends and then set up places for the meetings.
iii. Ryze.com - it was originally a business oriented site but of late members have been using this site to organize and plan for dates.
iv. Friendster.com - is a site basically meant for dating through a person’s own friends.
v. LiveJournal.com – this is a blogging service though members can also add their friends to join.
vi. MySpace.com MySpace is network site which is friend oriented it is becoming popular day by day especially with the teens and young people.
It looks like the most professional of all the other social networks. It is very oriented towards your professional network services. It does not allow one to add a photo to his/her profile it allows for members to search for jobs. It is the site with the least potential for social purposes.
Ecademy.com - It is a business networking site built up from a connection of a network of business establishments. It helps people get business opportunities and markets.
Spoke.com – This is also a professional networking site that helps people build up business opportunities. It helps its members to build up their business connections online.
Depending on the services that are offered by a particular kind of social networking site, a site can be considered attractive thus many members and vice versa.
The following table gives a summary of the methods of persuasions in the current social networking sites:
Different networking sites gather different set of information about their members. The types of information that is gathered depends on they type of site and the purpose for which it has been established. Social sites gather a different set of information as opposed to those gathered by business and other professional sites.
User profiles gathered by various social networking sites
Stimulating Social interactions
A community becomes what it is is depending on the nature and type of social interaction that is existing between its members. Some of the interactions that take place in a community are highlighted in the diagram below.
Use of social networking sites has been on the rise in the recent past. However, the use is very common amongst the youths and the teenagers. Initially most social sites were used for interaction but today there are several social sites which are used for advertisements and for transacting business activities. Social networking also has several advantages and disadvantages to the users. Care should therefore be taken to ensure that only useful information is taken in and the misleading information discarded.
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