Social networking refers to the set of virtual resources (internet) used to link individuals or legal persons between them. With the advent of the Internet, these Web applications are known as for “online social networking services” . These applications have multiple objectives and vocations. They are used to build a social network by connecting friends, associates, and generally individuals together using a variety of tools in order to facilitate, for example, management of professional careers, distribution and artistic visibility, or private meetings.
A social network is web 2.0 oriented, that is to say, it allows visitors to be active participants in the network, not just visitors to static pages.
In these communities, a first set of founders sends out messages inviting members of their own personal networks to join the site. New members repeat the process, increasing the number of members and links in the network. The sites then offer features such as automatic updates of address book, viewing personal profiles, the ability to form new relationships with introductory services, and other forms of online social connections. Social networks can also be organized around business connections, as in the case of LinkedIn or Viadeo, around events (concerts, exhibitions …) causes or interests (political as Left hope), cultural (films, books, paintings) as Flixster, or situations (websites targeting expatriates, as Internations or Glocals.com). Sometimes some sites combine several methods of networking as PointsCommuns that combines cultural and personal networking. Others like Doodle or Kisort are great agendas around events of real life shared “public” mode or “private”, but always with the idea of unity among members of the group attending the event. (meetings, outings …)
Miscegenation of social networking is an approach to social networking that combines both offline elements (face-to-face) and online. MySpace, for example, is built around independent music and videos and Facebook reflected a community of scholars. The latest social networking sites focused more on specific subjects such as art, sports, cars, games such as poker, dog owners, and even cosmetic surgery.
Most social networking sites are public, allowing anyone to join. Organizations such as large corporations, also have access to private social networking programs, known as Enterprise Relationship Management. They install these programs on their own servers and allow employees to share their network of contacts and relationships with people inside and outside companies. Recently have developed, in parallel with these private social networks, professional online social networks that establish a system of business networking.
The creation of a social network can be linked with the Pyramid of Maslow’s needs. Grouping a set of social entities is a result of needs expressed by the individual himself. Thus, it is possible to identify three basic needs:
Personal fulfillment by self-expression. Each user is expresses on his user file, profile, and enriched content. He communicates personal information that allows other users to recognize, or to find out.
Socialization experiencing a relational needs. The users can get in touch with each other directly or via a common knowledge. This relationship is generally evidenced by a list of friends or contacts, public or private. The user can also get in touch with brands, artists, places, etc.
The esteem of others through the need to communicate. The user has at his disposal a wide variety of tools to communicate (IM, dedication/guestbook of a contact profile, content sharing, forums). Communication can be enhanced by site (invitation to events, calendar sharing, etc.)
This virtual world allows numbers of interactions between users, thus constituting social networking.
A recent development for social networking is the integration of the element of the contract, known as the social market. Social networking has also been very influential in American presidential elections, and encourages the development of social networks in political vocation.