When speaking of social network sites (SNSs) people focus on communication, sharing files and making friends. These were primary goals of the first SNSs. These were major goals of such famous SNSs as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. However, many people have found different facets of the phenomenon called social network sites.
SNSs are now regarded as a terrain for a variety of activities. Thus, people have found a lot of uses for such sites as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. These sites are used in business, research and academia, and self-development. Notably, these uses are proved to be effective. Therefore, people should be aware of a variety of implications of using SNSs as spending time on chatting and sharing images is a mere waste of time in the contemporary world where people have to cope with loads of information.
In the first place, it is important to define SNSs. There are quite many definitions of the phenomenon. Boyd and Ellison define SNSs as
web-based services that allow individuals to . construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system . view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. (654)
It is necessary to note that the researchers stress the use of the term “social network” as they argue that social networking sites have more to do with establishing communication between “strangers” while the term “social network sites” refers to a web-based community (Boyd & Ellison 654). This differentiation is very important in terms of the new uses of SNSs. Thus, new ways to use SNSs are grounded on web-based communities as people have specific goals that are often associated with specific groups.
Brief Facts about SNSs
First SNSs appeared in 1995 and one of the first networks (it is still in use) is Classmates.com (Goetchius 6). This site is for alumni of US high schools and colleges. The major goal of the site is communication. Thus, people find their old friends or/and classmates, they communicate and share photos.
Social networks have been based on a similar principle. Users have specific profiles and the list of their “friends” is also visible. Different sites have exploited quite different approaches to the list and the profiles. The differences have been manifested in access to users’ profiles.
Nowadays there are quite many SNSs worldwide. Notably, many networks originate in one country and spread all over the globe. MySpace, Twitter and Facebook are such global sites. For instance, MySpace was developed as a network for musicians to share their creations and now the site has more than 140 million users from many countries (Goetchius 8).
Facebook was developed as a network for Harvard students. However, now it has about ten million users worldwide (Goetchius 8). Apparently, these networks unite people who have something in common. People joining certain networks share some interests. They do form communities which can have specific implications in different spheres.
The Use in Business
It is necessary to note that social networks attracted attention of business people as SNSs opened up new horizons. Many business people managed to foresee great potential of SNSs. They understood that SNSs provide a great terrain to promote products. These were specific communities united by shared interests. Therefore, users of certain SNSs were interested in similar products and it was easy to promote products as there were target communities. This is very convenient and cost-effective as a large group of people can be covered.
It has been acknowledged that there is certain change in demographics (Jeu et al. 6). New generations excessively use technology and it is possible to note that they are technology oriented. It is but natural that companies have to accommodate to these trends and they should also employ technology to promote their products. Importantly, the use of technology does not only help producers to present their products and services to people. The use of SNSs helps companies present their products and services to large groups of people. Globalization is something companies are not afraid of as SNSs enable businesses to enter global market.
Researchers have discovered a specific characteristic feature of SNSs. As any other community SNSs tend to shape people’s behavior and preferences (Grossman 27). This trait is one of the most important advantages of SNSs as popularity of a product may be fostered by users of SNSs. Grossman notes that some trends tend to “move through the network in clumps, like flocks of birds or schools of fish” (27). Apart from advertising activities launched by companies, SNS users can start a certain kind of promotion campaigns.
It is necessary to note that some industries create fictional profiles to promote their products. There are a variety of profiles of main characters of new films. This helps promote the films. The company Proctor & Gamble exploited profiles of some famous young actresses to promote a new deodorant (Goetchius 8).
Apart from such tools, which can be regarded as covert advertising when some people “recommend” or mention that they like this or that product on their profiles, there is a lot of advertisement in many social networks. This is a very effective way to advertise products if the targeted group is teenagers or young adults as millions of young people are active users of SNSs.
Apart from promoting their products, companies can use technology to hunt for new talents. Jue et al. note that people pertaining to Generation Y or Millenials, i.e. those born between 1977 and 2000, compose about a quarter of global population (27). The researchers also claim that in 2010 there will be a crisis of workforce as baby boomers retire and there will be a significant lack of experienced employees (Jue et al. 28). Therefore, company will need to exploit technology to attract talented Millenials.
The Use in Research and Academia
Of course, business is not the only sphere where SNSs can be used now. Research is another field where SNSs have started playing quite an important role. Again, it is convenient to analyze SNSs as people are grouped in specific categories. For instance, Grossman provides data concerning research on loneliness and states that lonely people tend
to cluster at the edges of the network, and that loneliness – like happiness, smoking and obesity –seems to spread through the network out to three degrees of separation. (27)
Researchers also study people’s desire to join networks. Researchers try to find out what exactly makes people join networks and be a part of something. Peculiarities of people’s choice are also studied. Researchers try to define what characteristics are important for decision making.
Furthermore, social networks can be used to learn more about recent trends in a specific society. Analyzing particular SNSs it is possible to understand which interests or hobbies prevail. The number of users of certain SNSs suggests that some percentage of people can be interested in music, finding new friends, communicating, etc.
It is also necessary to note that there are a variety of statistical tools to implement research based on study of SNSs. Apparently, technology can be used in many ways now (Grossman 29). Mobile phones, laptops, PCs are being used to track people’s preferences and habits while analyzing SNSs.
Notably, educators tend to use technology to make young people more involved in their learning. It is but natural that young people find it exciting to employ their mobile phones, their SNS profiles and other types of technology to prepare for their classes. As has been mentioned above, Generation Y or Millenials compose about a quarter of global population (Jue et al. 27). These people also excessively use technology. Therefore, technology can help a significant part of population study and develop new skills.
For instance, students of a medical university were asked to prepare a video about preventing diseases and 75% of the participants of this research claimed that such kind of tasks should be exploited in other classes (Kapp et al. 776). Importantly, some student performed well and loved the experience.
However, for some students it was quite a challenge, but they still agreed that it was a valuable experience for them. One of the participants reported that it was “a painful process at first”, but the student was happy to learn more about making videos and this student added that “[i]t is quite exhilarating to share your thoughts and ideas and display it for everyone to see” (Kapp et al. 776). Therefore, the use of technology is becoming more common in academia as well as in research.
The Use in Self-Development
Apart from research and business, SNSs are also used for self-development now. People tend to search for information online and SNSs are quite a significant source of information for many users of technology (Schmidt A31). For instance, people often try to find information on prevention of such diseases as flu, they also try to find tips on treatment online (Schmidt A31). This can easily be explained as people consult people they trust as they address people they define as friends.
People also can use SNSs to promote themselves. For instance, they can improve their resumes consulting a variety of people online. There are lots of groups (i.e. social networks) composed by people interested in certain careers (Goetchius 19). It is also possible to find a mentor who is more experienced and who can help an individual to acquire some skills.
Of course, SNSs are also a certain kind of a chat room where all possible options are considered and discussed. Thus, people share their experiences and evaluate different schools or training courses. This also helps people find the necessary way to develop certain skills.
Finally, the use of technology provides a variety of opportunities for job seekers. Many companies have their own profiles in SNSs. Globalization made it possible for people from different countries to work together. Thus, now many people are able to work from home. This can be a good start for a career in a multinational company.
People Should Be Aware of New Implications
On balance, it is clear that technology is starting playing a very important role in the life of contemporary people, and this means people should be acquainted with all possible ways to use technology. Clearly, young adults are the group who will benefit from the use of technology most as the use of SNSs opens up a variety of horizons for these people. Thus, SNSs, which have similar characteristic features, i.e. they are composed by people who share some interests. SNSs can be used for business, research and self-development.
Many companies have found a variety of ways to use SNSs to promote products and services, to launch advertising campaigns and to hunt for new talents. SNSs can also be used in research and academia as researchers can analyze social networks and learn more about people’s preferences and habits; it is also possible to trace new trends in the contemporary society. Finally, people can find lots of ways to self-develop with the help of SNSs.
However, people should be aware of these uses as many teenagers and even adults now employ SNSs to chat and share images. In many cases, SNSs are being used to spend time. Apparently, this use is not very effective as in the contemporary world time is becoming a luxury product.
People are bombarded by bits of information that is to be processed. Of course, there is little or no time to waste simply socializing. Young people should understand that SNSs can help them succeed in their lives, they should know that SNSs should not be used only to make friends and share new photos from parties.
Goetchius, Alex. Career Building through Social Networking. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2007. Print.
Grossman, Lisa. “The Ties That Bind: Studies of Human Social Networks Go High-Tech.” Science News 177.2 (2010): 26-29. Print.
Jue, Arthur L., Jackie Alcalde Marr, and Mary Ellen Kassotakis. Social Media at Work: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print.
Kapp, Julie M., Joseph W. LeMaster, M. Boden Lyon, Beilei Zhang and Michael C. Hosokawa. “Updating Public Health Teaching Methods in the Era of Social Media.” Public Health Reports 124.6 (2009): 775-777. Print.
Schmidt, Charles W. “TRENDING NOW: Using Social Media to Predict and Track Disease Outbreaks.” Environmental Health Perspectives 120.1 (2012): A30-A33. Print.