Social media is upending the way people communicate and is the primary reason why many have recently turned into avid Internet users. The high popularity of social platforms permits users to create as well as share content with one another in a mechanism that allows other to comment. Ever since its inception, social media has drawn much scholarly discourse regarding its nature, usage, and far-reaching enhancement of networking. This review examines the relevant literature on social media and networking by exploring the different definitions that allude to its key features. The analysis also explores the utility of social networks as enunciated in recent scholarly work.
Ellison defines social media as networks that permit users to build quasi-public or public profiles within an integrated system, connect with a list of users with whom they share an interest, and view as well as navigate their connection lists and those made by others (211). On their part, Collin et al. adopt a different and rather technical description of the term. The scholars articulate that social media is a term used to allude to collective media generation and sharing on an extensive scale (including all types of participatory media activities), but it also covers smaller user-created content platforms and micro-communities (Collin et al. 8). Both definitions capture the essence of social networks as participatory systems that allow people to generate and share content as well as interact with one another. The platforms characteristically rely on Internet-based technologies to transform discrete, ordinarily relatively concise user contributions like comments and status updates into an activity stream (Cann, Dimitriou, and Hooley 7). Updating written, audio or visual content that portrays a private or communal experience inevitable invites other users to view the content, engage one another as well as relate (Collin et al., 8). Bucher affirms this statement by noting that, every click, share, like, and post creates a connection, initiates a relation (2).
Social networks can be used for both professional and social purposes. In essence, the platforms foster real-time interactions that help friends and family alike to keep in touch with one another. It also enables businesses and entrepreneurs to market their products, reach out to existing and prospective customers, and construct as well as maintain meaningful strategic relationships. It provides an invaluable opportunity for users to identify as well as interact extensively with others who have matching interests. The many-to-many systems of interaction that typify social media offer a highly manageable means to stay in touch with other users with whom one shares an interest (Colin et al. 16). While this type of networking has always happened, it has recently been energized with the proliferation of the Internet and social media platforms (Collin et al. 16; Elison 219). In rationalizing this phenomenon, Johnson, Levine, and Smith assert that it is not the spaces themselves that draw people en masse to social media (5). Rather, the true and perpetual attraction of these platforms is the community and the people the people that use that space (Johnson, Levine, and Smith, 5). The ability to gain instantaneous access to a community and individuals with whom one can interact with is what distinguishes social networks from conventional Internet users and propagates its appeal. It is no wonder, therefore, that more users continue to join the virtual social communities and even remain active in multiple platforms simultaneously.
Bucher, Taina. "Networking, or what the social means in social media." Social Media+ Society 1.1 (2015): 1-2.
Cann, Alan, Konstantia Dimitriou, and Tristram Hooley. Social media: A guide for researchers. London: Research. Information Network, 2011.
Collin, Philippa, Kitty Rahilly, Ingrid Richardson, and Amanda Third. The Benefits of Social Networking Services: A literature review. Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology, and Wellbeing. Melbourne, 2011.
Ellison, Nicole B. "Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship." Journal of ComputerMediated Communication 13.1 (2007): 210-230.
Johnson, Larry, Alan Levine, Rachel Smith, and Sonja Stone. The 2009 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium, 2009.
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