Social Networking 101: What You Need to Know

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With the growing popularity of online social networking websites, people from all walks of life have recognized the value of sharing their knowledge and experiences. From MySpace and Facebook to social bookmarking, video sharing sites, and news sharing sites, social networking is a fun and interesting way to meet new people and share information. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the social networking phenomenon and how you too can participate.

What Is Social Networking?
Social networking is, in a word, all about sharing information. This information can take many forms: personal stories, videos, favorite websites, news stories, blogs, and discussion forums to name a few.

Here’s how it works: you register for a free account on a social networking website such as MySpace or Facebook, and then you create a user profile with information such as your name, location, contact information, picture, favorite music, movies, websites, and so on.

Once you’ve created your profile, you then add friends with similar interests to expand your network. As you expand your network, you add more interesting features to your profile that others can view and share; and in turn, you share others’ information as well. That is Social Networking 101.

Who Uses Social Networking Websites?
People from all walks of life use social networking websites including authors, musicians, dancers, photographers, artists, actors, and even politicians. Because social networking facilitates the expedient building of personal networks, you can quickly and effectively spread the word about your products, services, interests, or life experiences.

Spotlight on Social Networking Sites: MySpace vs. Facebook
MySpace and Facebook are probably the two most recognizable names in the social networking arena, yet they are quite different in the way they approach social networking. With MySpace, you create an actual web page (or profile) that you can direct others to. MySpace offers a multitude of flexibility including a personal blog, HTML tweaks, and a general network of millions of potential readers you can send friend requests to.

Facebook, however, is geared toward the creation of private networks around four main categories: regions, colleges, workplaces, and high schools. Rather than a general network of friends to choose from as in MySpace, you must fit into one of these categories before you can add friends. And, you must know the person before adding them. This fundamental difference between MySpace and Facebook is probably the reason I received a curt reply of “How do I know you?” subsequent to sending a friend request to someone I didn’t know yet shared similar interests with.

Facebook does not offer a pubic web presence to the social networker. If someone finds your Facebook page via internet search, it will appear only as a very brief summary and then tell the user they must sign on with Facebook to see your Facebook profile. This is great if you desire privacy; but if you’re an aspiring actor, musician, or writer trying to get your name out there, MySpace is the better choice.

Another scenario: if you’re a college student having fun and want close interaction with your friends, Facebook is the way to go. But if you desire a web presence with a public web page, a blog, and the option of millions more new friends, go with MySpace for sure.

Other Social Networking Websites
Social networking websites don’t stop at MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, or Friendster . Video sharing websites such as YouTube , Google Video , MySpace TV , and even GodTube allow members to post comments, send messages to each other, embed videos in other websites, and post on other social networking sites.

Social bookmarking is also a very popular social networking trend. You can bookmark and share websites you like in an online community and comment on each other’s selections. Furl.net is a popular social bookmarking site that will get your bookmarks crawled by major search engines. Yahoo MyWeb and Magnolia are two other popular social bookmarking sites. If you decide to sign on with one of these sites, watch out! You may start bookmarking every website you come across.

Which Social Networking Site Is Best?
If you want to sign up with a social networking site, which is best? It all depends on what you want to do online. For example, do you want to establish a public web presence and find new friends? Post and share videos? Bookmark and comment on nifty new websites?

In this day and age, so many offerings exist, and it’s simply a matter of how you’d like to approach your online social networking experience. Regardless, social networking is a fun and interesting way to share your life experiences, meet new people, and share information.

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