If you've ever asked yourself "what is electronic social networking?" we've got the answer. Here is a short rundown of the ins and outs of the newest Internet trend, user-driven social websites.
Exactly What Is Electronic Social Networking?
You've probably seen, or even joined, websites such as MySpace or Facebook. Perhaps you've read through a blog topic that interests you. Maybe you've voted for a compelling web article on Digg. If you have, guess what? You're a part of social networking!
It's All about User Driven Content
Generally speaking, social networking is a Web 2.0 term used to describe web-based communities of people who interact with each other through forums, chat, link sharing, and more. The idea behind social networking is that if you create a place to gather, the people who join will contribute the bulk of the website's content by developing what is called user driven content.
As the name implies, user driven content is web content derived from a site's user base. This can come from blogging, posting pictures, sharing information in forums, and much, much more. Essentially, members interact with each other and create all of the interesting information that draws even more members, which continues to build the community.
The Many Kinds of Social Networks
There are a vast number of online communities available to anyone with an Internet connection. If you're still wondering exactly what is electronic social networking, here are some specific examples of websites you can visit.
If you're interested in connecting with friends and family, there are two primary sites on the Internet that anyone can join. Facebook and MySpace are both very popular and boast a robust feature set:
- Join a group or start your own to find like-minded individuals
- Upload photos for your friends to comment on (and vice versa)
- Search for current and past classmates
- Play games with other users
- Share music and videos
- Post a classified ad
These sites also make it easy to search for people with specific interests and characteristics, so they have become a great meeting ground for making new friends. The big plus to using these sites is that you can network with people around the world, at any time. The club never closes, so to speak, so you can hang out and chat whenever you like.
Social networking sites geared specifically for businesses, such as LinkedIn and Biznik, allow you to connect with colleagues and business contacts. These two sites have a great deal of features that are geared specifically to career development. With these sties you can:
- Create and join business-related groups
- Give and receive positive recommendations and references
- Get introduced to business contacts through your network
- Find work or search for potential employees
With more and more people joining every day, LinkedIn and Biznik can be very valuable entrepreneurial tools that allow you to grow your business circle to include folks all over the world. Just like the general networking sites, you can log in any time day or night, working whenever you want to.
Social Bookmarking Sites
A new crop of social boomarking sites have popped up that allow members to bookmark and vote on links, and the more votes a link gets, the more people it is distributed to. These services can provide a lot of interesting reading if you are looking for information on specific topics. Three popular sites are:
Using a blogging service is a great way to connect with other people. These sites not only give you a place to record your thoughts, but also allow you to network with others:
- Livejournal allows you to create a blog and mark your posts public, private, or friends only. The site also houses thousands of active communities on any number of topics, which are a great place to chat with others and meet new people.
- MySpace also allows you to keep a blog on their website, which can be easily shared with your friends.
What Other Kinds of Sites Are There?
Beyond general communities where anyone can join, there are many places on the Internet for people to gather for a specific purpose. Here are a few social networks that are more specialized in their focus:
- Twitter - a place where you can record your thoughts, 140 characters at a time, and share them with the masses
- Tumblr - a tumblelog where you can share links, posts, and photos with friends and other Tumblr readers.
- YouTube - this social network allows you to share and a wide variety of videos with millions of other people on the Internet.
- GroupRecipes - a virtual place for gastronomes to talk about the topic they love most: food.
- OurStory - a website where you can build a timeline of your life, similar to an online scrapbook, and discuss your experiences with people around the world.
The Final Word
Social networking is the newest Internet trend, and if you spend any time on the Internet at all, you are probably already a part of it in some way. Visit one of the sites listed above and embrace a virtual community!