SOCIAL NETWORKS : A NEW PHENOMENON FOR SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND MARKETING TOOLS Essay

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“You have a friend requested from Jean-Marc”… This sentence seems to be common for anyone using Facebook as me. It is a request from someone asking to be part of your “friends” in a virtual social network. But the fact is that Jean-Marc is my father. I didn’t understand why but I really freaked out when I discovered that somebody explained to my father what is Facebook and how to use it. Actually, there was nothing really wrong with this, as I don’t have something to hide, but it leads me to question myself about the social networks on Internet in general, their meaning in my everyday life, their purpose, their role in our societies... In effect, for many years, we can see a new phenomenon on Internet: the social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, OpenBC, Viadéo, 6nergie... who appeal numerous millions of users in the world. Even in China, where the web access is really well controlled, some investors want to take actions in such societies. What is a social network on Internet ? There are usually four main types of virtual communities, depending on the nature of exchanges and the intensity of links between users: • communities of “transaction” (for example a website selling wines; links between users are not very intense at all, because they don’t really correspond with each other); • communities of “interests” where people are around the same theme (health for example, as the French site to a large audience Doctissimo giving advices for users); • communities of imagination (virtual games, second life, people have a strong link through avatars or “virtual identities”) • community of experience, connecting people with similar experiences (links between users are intense), could be also sites around a passion (windsurfing, kite surfing...)  The particularity of a social network like Facebook is that it’s in itself a mix of several

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