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Effects of Social Networking

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Effects of Social Networking


Imagine the year 2000 - six years before idea of Twitter became a reality, four years before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his college dormitory, three years before Myspace was converted to support the idea of social networking. The thought that people might someday spend over 700 billion minutes per month on a single website such as Facebook was unthinkable. These social networking sites along with hundreds more were just a spark in designers' minds.


Flash forward to the present. College students in the year 2010 can't wait to update their status. It is urgent for them to let their three-hundred and twenty Facebook friends know about the assignment they have due in two days. While paging through their live feed they realize, from a status update, they have an unknown assignment due the following day. In the news feed, they recognize their favorite sports team has won. They can see what their friends had to say about the game. If a college class is moved or a high school day is canceled, students are often more likely to find it out on Facebook rather than through communication with their school or university.

Facebook first went online for social networking in February 2004, from a college dormitory at Harvard. It was initially restricted to Harvard students until expanding first to area colleges, then all colleges, and eventually the world. Facebook currently has expanded to over 500 million users, surpassing MySpace in registered users and web traffic. Myspace allows its users to customize their own profile page and provide status updates similar to Facebook. It provides its users with the option of adding music and multimedia to a user's profile page, which is a feature Facebook does not allow. Myspace is essentially a single webpage devoted to the user which can be used to communicate with friends. Both sides allow a user to post comments to friends. Perhaps the reason Facebook became more successful was due to its simplicity of operation and greater continuity throughout user profiles.

The idea of Twitter takes the concept of Facebook and simplifies it further. What sets Twitter apart from both Facebook and Myspace is that it only allows users to post up to 120 character comments. This equates to faster, easier message reading. Users can read four tweets in the time it would take to read one Facebook comment. ATwitter even has a simpler profile page which shows the users tweets in large font on the left of the page, while displaying followers on the right. Traditional Facebook or Myspace profiles display what can be an intimidating amount of information. This "ease of use" may help Twitter to grow in the future.

Potential Benefits

Sixty percent of adults maintain a profile on a social networking site, and 70% read blogs and tweets (Galagan, 29). Social media has expanded from a small communication portal between students to an advertising gateway for business. Scott Cooley argues in an article titled "Social Networks and Facebook", that people can go on Facebook and read wall posts to get a sense of the reputation of a person. Cooley says that if a company has a large Facebook following it will increase his chances of doing business with them. Many businesses will actually search a person's name on Facebook before considering them for hire.

Companies big and small alike have also created fan pages to better promote their business. A Facebook fan page has become an important relationship builder with clients. The site has become the new marketing strategy, replacing older types of advertising. With a fan page, companies can draw in Facebook users providing a brief summary of the operations of the business. If the user likes what they see, it is then possible to follow a link to the business website for more information. The best part, a fan page is free.

Colleges and Universities are also leaving traditional brochure and letter sending methods for the more favorable online approach. Colleges have discovered that prospective students are more likely to respond



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