In this article, I will define social networks, review the history of physical and digital social networks, explain the social networks most used by people and companies, and mention some benefits of using them.
I have created this article because a curved of the people who come to my blog has little knowledge of social networks and their uses in companies and need it to start with this topic.
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1. What are Social Networks
A social network is a group of people or entities connected by relationships or common interests. The word remains attributed to the British anthropologists Alfred Radcliffe-Brown and John Barnes.
In anthropology and sociology, social networks have been the subject of study in different fields. Still, social networks analysis has also been carried out by other specialties that do not belong to the social sciences. For example, graph theory represents social networks through nodes connected by edges in mathematics and computer science. The nodes would be the individuals and the advantages of the relationships that join them. Through this theory, the existing social networks between the employees of a company and, in the same way, between Facebook friends can stay analyzed.
Social networks stand based mainly on the theory published in 1929 called six degrees of separation, which says that all the world’s inhabitants remain connected to each other with a maximum of six people as intermediaries in the chain. It causes the number of known people in the chain to grow exponentially as the number of connections grows, allowing only a small number of references to be needed to form a network connecting one person to anyone else in the world.
As mentioned earlier in this book, the concept of “social networks” will refer to social media sites or social media.
2. History of Social Networks
Social networks have nothing new because man is a social being by nature. Throughout humanity’s history, it stands identified as the social part that has been fundamental in man’s life.
In ancient cultures such as Chinese culture, Greek culture, and Roman culture, social networks’ importance for their operation stands identified.
Historically, social networks have always allowed communication in two directions. That is, there were immediate communication and feedback.
When people approached the town park to find out what had happened in the town recently, two-way communication made it very practical. It allowed much efficiency in this type of communication.
The emergence in the 20th century of the mass media such as television, radio, press, and others brought multiple advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it simplified, massed, and gave a lot of speed to communication. Still, on the other hand, it significantly limited feedback, or in other words, it went from a one-to-one communication to a one-to-many communication.
Examples of close social networks today are our families, jobs, and systems generated around shared interests such as sports, professional areas, or hobbies. Other social networks are study places and research groups, as well as the neighborhood where we live.
Virtual communities and digital social networks allowed us to recover the one-to-one communication before the mass media since we permanently connected in a public space.
3. History of Digital Social Networks
Next, I will make a recount of the main events that have marked the history of social networks:
- 1991: The World Wide Web remains made.
- 1993: development of the first graphical browser called “Mosaic.”
- 1994: The primary blog stays there made.
- 1995: The first social network Classmates.com stays created.
- 1996: Ask.com allows users to search with natural language.
- 1997: One of the first bloggers, Jorn Barger, coined the term “Weblog.”
- 1998: Launch of Open Diary allows you to create public or private newspapers without the need for HTML knowledge.
- 1999: launch of Bloggers and LiveJournal are the first two blogging tools.
- 2000: Wikipedia launched as the first web, 2.0 encyclopedia.
- 2001: Launch of Meetup.com allows people to organize events for people with common interests.
- 2002: Friendster.com allows users to create profiles and connect with their friends.
- 2003: launch of LinkedIn, a social network aimed at professionals and companies.
- 2004: launch of Facebook and Flickr, social network, and photo sharing system, respectively.
- 2005: launch of YouTube, a video-sharing system.
- 2006: launch of Twitter, microblogging system.
- 2007: launch of Tumblr, social blogging system.
- 2008: launch of Groupon, social commerce application.
- 2009: launch of WhatsApp, a messaging system.
- 2010: launch of Instagram, a social network aimed at mobile devices and with a graphic vocation.
- 2011: launch of Snapchat and Google+, the first social network that allows sharing content deleted after a while and the second the Google social network.
- 2012: launch of Pinterest, a social network for sharing images.
- 2013: Launch of Vine, a social network for sharing short videos.
- 2014: Facebook buys WhatsApp.
- 2015: Launch of Periscope, a Twitter application to make live videos.
- 2016: Instagram launches Instagram Stories with functionality similar to Snapchat.
4. Most used Social Networks
The most used social networks are the following:
Facebook is the most active social network with more than 2,200 million, far surpassing the second social network.
It is a network that agrees to people to communicate with their family and friends quickly. On the other hand, companies look to Facebook to bring their brands closer to the audience, help their customers, and create traffic to the official website.
YouTube is a social network specialized in videos and has more than 1,500 million active users in a month. With the growth of video consumption on the Internet, YouTube has become one of the world’s most trafficked pages.
Although, Brands use YouTube primarily as a video repository, as the videos achieve virality (spread) through the other social networks.
Instagram has more than 1,000 million active users in a month. It is a social network that is inescapable on smartphones, both Android and iOS. Instagram favors photographs and videos taken at a specific time and ultimately shared the standard system.
Instagram is a collaborative network that companies can use to strengthen their brand (branding) and bring it closer to the audience.
Twitter has second than 350 million active users in a month.
It limits the length of your communications to 280 characters and allows you to take part in photos and videos. This one is important to note that Twitter was the creator of the hashtags (terms accompanied by a pound sign “#” under which trends can stay followed).
This social network has more than 260 million active users in a month and more than 500 million registered users.
LinkedIn is aimed at professional groups and has evolved in recent years from being a recruiting social media channel to an informative channel where value-added information from different professions is shared.
Snapchat has more than 255 million users. This social network stands mainly meant for young people, but its growth has slowed since Instagram launched its Instagram Stories service.
Companies aimed at young people must have this social network in their social media ecosystem.
This social network, characterized by allowing the storage and sharing of pictures by categories, has more than 200 million active operators in a month.
Pinterest has not had substantial growth in recent years. On the other hand, I consider it very useful in the social media marketing strategy.
Google+ is Google’s social network that, despite being less used by people every day, originates from some benefits in companies’ search engine positioning.
5. Benefits of Social Networks for Companies
- Community creation. Social networks allow companies to create a community with their target audience easily. This community stays not made overnight, but with work and perseverance.
- Knowledge of customers. Social networks allow us to understand better the company’s feelings and current and potential customers’ needs.
- Emotional channel. Social networks are dynamic channels that facilitate moving from the customer’s mind to her heart.
- Customer loyalty. If the knowledge acquired from the client stands used to adjust the company’s value proposition, more significant commitment will stay achieved.
- Closeness to the client. Social networks allow you to get closer to customers since they are more emotional and intimate than the website.
- Interaction with clients. Social networks facilitate interaction with the company’s clients, which is very important since people expect to interact with it.
- Dissemination of information. Social networks are an excellent tool for spreading company information.
- Reputation management. Social networks allow reputation management, including permanent monitoring, handling dissatisfied customers, and management of attacks on reputation.
- Track the competition. Social networks are an excellent channel to monitor competitor activities, both online and offline. Additionally, it allows you to identify the status of your online reputation.
- Greater sales. Social networks allow increasing the sales of the company, although I consider that it should not be the primary objective of these,
- Improve customer service. Social networks can improve customer service, for which, ideally, there is an integration between social networks and the CRM system.
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