What Is Social Networks? Definition of Social Networks, Social Networks Meaning and Concept
Social networks are communities formed by different users and organizations that relate to each other on Internet platforms .
In social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Linkedin, Instagram or TikTok, groups can be formed and information and multimedia elements such as images or videos can be shared. This, according to the interests of the users.
Each social network has its particular objectives and uses, in addition to the fact that the content must be adapted to each one of them.
For example, Facebook is a very useful social network to contact friends, meet people with the same interests and create company pages. The latter, to improve branding and positioning.
On the other hand, Twitter is a microblogging platform with messages of maximum 150 characters. Thus, this network serves mainly to transmit information and opinions.
But there are a large number of social networks, which put users in contact through the internet.
Origin and history of social networks
Social networks are a tool that we are used to using on a day-to-day basis and that we can access from practically anywhere on the planet. Although it is true, the first social networks appeared in the 90s with a different concept from the one they have taken later.
In 1994 appears what is considered the first social network. It was not a web portal where you could interact with other people, the objective of this social network is to be able to read blogs grouped by themes. The owners of the blogs hosted them based on the theme of the blog in a city in the United States virtually. An example of this city could be Silicon Valley, where all the blogs related to computers were found. Currently this social network is not in operation.
Later, in 1995, a social network was founded that is at an intermediate point between the one mentioned above and the modern ones. This social network is known as Classmates and its objective is to allow former classmates to connect and chat or arrange a meeting.
Finally, in 1997 Sixdegrees.com appeared, a social network that allowed interaction with other users and also make groups of friends. From this moment on, other types of social networks began to appear, such as Messenger in 1999, LinkedIn in 2002 or Facebook in 2004.
For what are the social network good for?
As we well know, there are many social networks with different functionalities each of them. It is important to mention that although there are social networks with the aim that the user spends his leisure time using them, there are others for work purposes.
Along with this, there are also social networks that seek to organize their users to collaborate and help in some charitable or solidarity cause. In relation to this, social networks serve mainly to put different people or institutions in digital contact.
Social networks make it possible to break down a barrier as important as the geographical one, facilitating instant messaging, Internet calls or video calls between people separated by thousands of kilometers.
How do social networks work?
In practically all social networks, before starting to use them, it is necessary to create a profile with the user's data. This profile usually includes contact information such as name and surname, email, telephone and an image.
Once the profile is created, the user can make friend requests to other users to include them in their friends list and be able to see their content updates on the wall. Along with this, it is also possible to interact with professional profiles of companies, the Public Administration or NGOs.
Social networks offer more and more functionalities so that the user can have practically all the services offered by social networks on a single platform.
Characteristics of social networks
Social networks have the following characteristics:
- They allow interaction between different people or institutions.
- They considerably simplify the communication process between two subjects who are not in the same geographical area.
- Generally, they are free for the user.
- They offer the opportunity to reach thousands of people through a virtual profile.
- They are totally instant, you can send a message from Mexico to China and the receiver reads it seconds after sending it.
Advantages of social networks
Among the advantages of social networks are the following:
- Immediate communication: Companies can publish, for example, their content instantly and see user reactions soon after.
- Job opportunities: Social networks can serve as a springboard to offer an attractive cover letter. This, given that companies today tend to investigate the profiles of candidates to learn more about them.
- Entertainment: They offer accessible information in real time and on demand. You can choose who to follow to stay informed.
- Social complaint: Social networks serve to bring to light situations that in some traditional media may go unnoticed. In addition, users tend to unite with these causes, giving them greater visibility.
- Share knowledge: Netizens can group together to exchange more detailed information on what interests them. When it comes to training actions or common interests, this option is very helpful.
- Improves brand visibility: Image is very important for companies. Through the Internet, businesses can cross barriers and create a recognizable brand anywhere in the world.
- Dissemination of company content: Content is an essential part of the business strategy because it increases visits to the firm's page and, therefore, potential customers also increase.
- Measure marketing actions: An intervention is carried out, for example, an advertising campaign, and users' reactions to that action are known almost immediately.
Disadvantages of social networks
Regarding the disadvantages, the main ones that users can find would be the following:
- Scams on social networks: On certain occasions it may happen that false profiles are created, job offers that are not real, among others.
- Privacy settings: Special care must be taken when publishing certain data such as our home address, if people are going on vacation or images that contain private information.
- Addiction to social networks: This problem can especially affect young people who live pending social networks. Thus, they put aside their obligations and limit themselves to spending time indefinitely on digital platforms.
Main types of social networks
In the network there are different types of social networks , each type offers specific services. Here we mention the most used social networks of each type:
- Facebook: It is the most famous today and exceeds 2 billion active users per month. In it you can create friends and share content in the form of images, videos or statuses.
- Whatsapp: Keeps millions of users around the world in contact through mobile with instant messages. Advertising on this platform is booming.
- YouTube: It is the video network par excellence. Companies use it to introduce their advertising, with youtubers also being key players.
- Instagram: One of the most visual and most used networks today by users. You can share images, stories that can only be viewed for 24 hours, and videos.
- Twitter: It is based on the microblogging format through short messages of a maximum of 150 characters. It is a social network widely used to stay informed or learn about certain topics.
- Pinterest: Another visual network that includes photo boards that are shared by users.
- Linkedin : It is a social network to exchange job offers and connect with professional contacts.
- TikTok: This social network allows users to share short videos.