Social Networking has been part of our lives for a long time now albeit in formats that we might not have regarded in the past as social networks as we see and recognise them today. The idea of social networking was promulgated with the advent of Facebook. I remember a time when I was a member of sites such as Hi5, which slowly had to succumb to the strength of other networks such as Facebook. What made Facebook so much more enticing to the general public was the fact that it was not simply aimed at sharing publicly occurrences in one’s life but also a strong platform from which businesses and organisations could reach out to their clientele and customers. Thus we saw the rise of a platform from which people interacted not simply for the sake of interacting but as a means to further their interests.
Some people are avers to using a site such as Facebook for several reasons. The main reason being that it is inconvenient for them to show the world what they are up to or let others know about their personal details. But in today’s world this is becoming a falsity. In a world where every time you fill an online form and every time you log into an account on a smartphone, one’s details are being saved on cloud storage, it is useless to try to save yourself from exposing your life to the world at general.
Hence the situation can be turned around in a way were one can USE such networks to one’s advantage instead of fighting against their rapid progress. There are various ways that Facebook can be harnessed to one’s advantage. I have gone through several social websites in my life, each having a particular use. LinkedIn promotes professional integration between individuals and places your profile at an advantage to be scrutinised by businesses thus serving as self-promotion –
‘LinkedIn is a business-focused social networking site that launched in 2003. Its main purpose is to help people network professionally. The basic service is free.The site lets you find other business associates, clients, and colleagues whom you already know. You “connect” with them through the site, and they then become part of your network.Once you’ve connected with a person, you will then have access to their list of connections – this is called your “extended network.” You can request an introduction to people in your extended network through your mutual contact.’ (Hill, R. 2015)
‘Academia.edu is a social networking website for academics. It was launched in September 2008 and had over 21 million registered users as of April 2015. The platform can be used to share papers, monitor their impact, and follow the research in a particular field.’ (Wiki, 2015)
Thus both LinkedIn and Academia.edu are quite different in scope. We saw that the former is a means to get yourself noticed in higher hemispheres, while the latter is a social means to share knowledge and follow interests in a specific field.
Thus, I do not term these last two as totally social in nature. They have specific roles to play on the net, while Facebook stands out a a more malleable social resource. I share personal anecdotes of my life, I connect with my friends, peers and students and I use this last to gain an advantage to promulgate news and interests to these same. I edit a magazine which serves as a showcase for the institute wherein I work. Collecting articles, interviewing and editing the magazine proper is simple half the work. The main job is how to reach out and get others to be actually interested in reading this online magazine. My first approach was to create a social status for the magazine both online and in the real world. By creating a Facebook page and hold social events hosted by the magazine in the institute’s name, people became aware of the magazine’s existence. Competitions and surveys played their role too. Raising the Likes to this page was not easy, raising the active Likes was even more difficult. It is useless having a thousand likes when the page has been unfollowed. The aim is to have people interact with your page to keep it alive.
In concluding, as noted previously, I see Facebook as a malleable way to keep a virtual social activity going on in one’s life and being in synch with progress. Both LinkedIn and Academia.edu have their purpose, yet I see these as limited in broadness though very useful within their parameters. Facebook keeps a step ahead of most other social networks by being a social way of how to integrate, communicate and most importantly affect sections of the public at a time, a means of how to evangelise something with visible results in the comfort of one’s home or office.