Social networks are structures designed on the Internet by people or organizations that connect based on shared interests or values. Relationships between individuals or companies are created quickly, without hierarchy or physical limits.
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What Are Social Networks?
In the virtual world, social networks are sites and applications that operate at various levels – such as professional and relationships, among others – but always allow exchanging information between people and companies.
When we talk about a social network, what comes to mind in the first place are sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or applications like TikTok and Instagram, typical of today. But the idea, however, is much older: in sociology, for example, the concept of social network has been used to analyze interactions between individuals, groups, organizations, or even entire societies since the end of the 19th century.
Social networks have sparked discussions such as the lack of privacy on the Internet, but they have also served to call for public demonstrations in protests. These platforms also created a new relationship between companies and customers, opening paths both for interaction and advertisement of products or services.
When They Arose
In the 1990s, with the Internet available, the idea of a social network also migrated to the virtual world. The SixDegrees.com site, created in 1997, is considered by many to be the first modern social network, as it allowed users to have a profile and add other participants in a format similar to what we know today. The pioneering site, which had 3.5 million members at its peak, was closed in 2001, but it was no longer the only one.
At the beginning of the millennium, pages aimed at the interaction between users began to emerge: Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, and hi5 are some examples of illustrious sites of the period. Many of today’s most popular social networks also appeared around this time, such as LinkedIn and Facebook
Few people imagined that social networks would have such an impact as they do today. But the desire to connect with other people from anywhere in the world has made people and organizations increasingly immersed in social networks.
According to the latest forecasts made on social media, there is continuous growth in its use, and the number of active monthly users by 2023 will be above 3.50 million people. In addition, for the same year, approximately 82% of internet users of social media on the planet remain expected. Not in vain, a Statista survey in Spanish ensures that the expansion of social networks has no pause.
Types Of Social Networks
Social Networks Can Remain Classified Into Two Types:
Horizontal or generic social networks. They are those social networks that do not have a specific theme but instead target all kinds of users. These networks function as means of communication, information, or entertainment. They are very numerous and widespread, for example: on Facebook or Twitter.
Vertical social networks. They are those social networks that relate people with specific interests in common, such as music, hobbies, and sports. For example, Flickr remains a social network whose theme is photography. Within these networks are professional vertical networks, such as LinkedIn, involving individuals who share the work environment or seek to expand their work boundaries.
Social Networks and Social Media
Many people believe that social networks and social media are the same and that the terms can remain used as synonyms, but this is not true. Social media uses technologies to make dialogue between people interactive. In contrast, a social network is a social structure of people who share similar interests, as detailed in the previous item.
It can remain said that social networks are a category of social media. The main resolution of social networks is to connect people. You complete your profile on social media channels and interact with people based on the details they read about you.
Social media, in turn, is a broad term encompassing different media, such as videos, blogs, and the aforementioned social networks. To understand the concept, you can look at what we understood as media before the existence of the Internet: radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines. When the means of communication became available on the Internet, they ceased to be static, offering the opportunity of interacting with other people.
Social media’s heart remain relationships shared in social networks, leading to confusion. Social media are spaces where information can remain transmitted to other people.
Another way to differentiate them is to think that social media helps people unite through technology. In contrast, social networks improve that connection since people only interconnect in networks because they have common interests.
For What Is The Social Network Suitable?
- Communicate and share—[social networks] remain occupied as platforms for exchanging information or opinion. Depending on the network category, the functionalities and the kind of communication established between users vary. In many of them, users can share images, videos, documents, opinions, and information.
- Maintain or establish contact. Networks allow everyone who has access to the Internet to create a user on the web and connect with others around the planet who are also members of that social network. They allow you to communicate with friends besides family, make new friends, find a partner, and establish work or professional relationships.
- The great flow of information socializing on [social networks] allows users to stay informed about important events or topics of interest. Most networks will enable you to produce a user and customize the type of information that will remain displayed on the web.
- Be entertained. [Social networks] create communities of users with similar interests on specific topics. These networks function as a great source of entertainment and relaxation.
- Sell buy. Many [social networks] have remained established as channels for purchasing and selling goods or services. On stages such as Instagram or Facebook, the handler can follow businesses, shops, or independent workers and establish business relationships with them.
Advantages Of Social Networks
Social networks have a series of rewards or benefits. Which have allowed them to establish themselves as the undisputed protagonists on the web.
- [Social networks] work in real-time. They are immediate. The information, videos, images, and opinions shared on networks remain usually made public. And can remain known by any network user in almost any part of the globe immediately. On some platforms such as Twitter, social, cultural, political or economic, regional. Or global events remain instantly known by all its users.
- They are massive. Social networks have broken down cultural and age barriers as they reach a large portion of the population.
- They shorten distances. [Social networks] allow you to interconnect with friends, family, and network users regardless of geographical reach.
- In recent years, advertising and the creation of corporate and brand profiles have made [social networks] a new market. They increase the visibility of the brands. The allow buyers and sellers from all over the world to connect. They facilitate customer service.
- [Social networks] work as means to visualize certain information. They function as a channel for learning, entertainment, and communication. Depending on the content in which the user remain interested, they can learn, be entertained, or be informed.
Thus, we can currently speak of more than 40 [social networks] around the world, each with its corresponding purpose. The 20 main [social networks] are the following, of which the first eight are the most popular: Facebook.