The popularity of a Social Networking Service (SNS) is an axiom, a fact so well-established and uncontroversial that it is accepted without controversy. Even those people who are not fond of social networks know full well how prevailing in our lives they have become. For most of us, no day passes by without some communication on at least one of the existing social networking websites. We have to read at least one piece of news a day or jot down at least a line to a friend. But this is the minimum of our social network activities since many people’s lives are being spent online almost entirely. Not only can people be present online unintermittedly but they also, rather ubiquitously, can be active on numerous social networking websites at the same time. Our immersion into virtual life is so deep that no information about the SNS seems enlightening. There is hardly anything we have not heard about Social Networking Services.
This article, therefore, does not aim to elucidate hitherto unknown aspects of social networking websites. Its goal is rather to list some social oriented services that you should consider using and provide some supporting information about our choices. In what follows below, we are explaining for what purposes different websites connect people, dividing them into entertaining, professional, educational, and informational groups. We are also showing that depending on the websites’ orientation, they connect people in their different capacities. Thus, LinkedIn connects between employees and employers; Academia helps academics share their research; LendingClub brings together borrowers and investors and allows them to lower the cost of consumers’ credits, as explained in the LendingClub’s reviews; Classmates seeks to help users find their former school friends; various dating websites forge romantic ties between people. Social Networking Services are so popular and widespread that they exist now in God’s plenty, offering different types of connections to everyone who is interested in making them.
Indeed, Social Networking Services are best defined as an online vehicle for creating relationships with other people based on their shared interests, background, goals, tastes, and actual real-life connections. The way the SNS usually brings people together is through the individual profiles they are required to open on their chosen websites. Different types of social networking websites ask people to fill out various types of information, some of which are more personal and detailed than others. The type of the information a specific website invites people to provide is also aligned with its purposes: Classmates asks users to indicate from what schools they graduated and when, while on LinkedIn people leave the most detailed information about their work experience and professional skills, not required on other websites. Facebook is one of the few websites where the falsity of the provided information does not hamper the establishment of relationships between users. On all websites, people create ties through sharing information and photos, emailing, messaging, and commenting on each other’s posts.
The most popular type of Social Networking Services is websites geared towards all users indiscriminately to help them keep in touch with friends and family members. There is no specific condition to satisfy to build relationships with other users on such websites. Although users are advised to connect with only those profiles whose owners they know in real life, they can send a friend request to people from all over the world. Another important feature all these websites share is that they are free of charge. Built on the breadth of membership, they earn from advertisement. Content on all social connection websites is generated by users. People inform each other about their interests by posting photos, videos, or written information. Among the most widely-used websites in this category are Facebook, Google+, MySpace, and Twitter.
Another common type of SNS is professional social networks, designed to provide people opportunities to develop their career. They thus help forge relationships between people who share a professional or business network. Some of them, such as LinkedIn, provide a general forum for professionals to find each other. Others are centered on specific occupations and interests. To the second kind of professional websites belongs to Classroom 2.o, created to help teachers bond while discussing pedagogical issues.
There are also media-sharing networks such as YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vimeo. They give people a place to find and share photos, video, and live video. It is true, of course, that such social networks as Facebook and Twitter also allow users to post photos and videos. Yet what is different between these two types of Social Networking Services is that the sharing of media is the primary purpose of YouTube, Instagram, and other similar networks. The defining goal of Facebook, by contrast, is to connect people with each other, with photos and video being only one of the offered communicative modes. Posts on the media-sharing networks necessarily start with video, while texts in the form of captions are optional.
Yet another highly popular type of the SNS is social community and discussion sites. They are designed to satisfy people’s thirst for knowledge and offer them answers to the questions they pose. Frequently visited websites of this kind are Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo! Answers. Topics talked about on the discussion websites are given wide scope. People may ask any question, from a grammatical use of a certain verb in a sentence to physical symptoms of a disease to political and economic prognosis in the world. The discussion websites allow people to customize their question streams and profiles according to their interests. Users can also vote for the best or the worst answer to a question.
Academic researches seeking to share their research with their colleagues flock together on academic-specific social networks. The most popular online communities for academics are Academia.edu, where users post their research and follow papers written by other academics, and ResearchGate created for researchers to exchange useful information with each other.
These are only several examples of the social network services inviting people to establish connections with like-minded individuals. There are numerous other websites, where people can bond over the same interests, hobbies, and problems. And because the internet and technology constantly develop fueled by human creativity, there will be more of them to come in the future to strengthen our ties with fellow human beings.