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Social Networking 101

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet

What is “Social Networking”?

I was thinking the other day how much and how quickly the internet changes. Social networking, for example, has exploded with new ways to interact that are introduced almost every day.

For those of you who are new to this concept (I didn’t even know what blog meant until three months after “everybody” was doing it), social networking is when people build online (usually non-local) communities (Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to reach out to others who share the same interests.

There are a lot of ways to socially “connect” to people on the internet. You have to start somewhere, so here, in my humble opinion, are the top four “must-knows” of social networking.


It seems you cannot go anywhere without seeing the term “blog”.

A blog is a contraction for the term web log. It is basically an online journal that can be edited, read, or written in. Entries are usually posted in reverse-chronological order. If you submit one of these entries (post your thoughts), you are blogging.

Here’s something else: If you are passionate about something and want to discuss it with other people on the web, you could consider opening your own blog. Head on over to a blog setup site ( is the most popular, but there are others) and set up your own for free. They will guide you through all of the steps to get your very own blog up and running on the web. There are also other websites to go to that give great tips and advice for beginner bloggers.

Twitter, Tweets and Microblogging.

Twitter is a website to send tweets.

A “Tweet” is the small message that is posted on Twitter.

Microblogging is both.

Hmmm. Let me clarify things just a little more…

Twitter is going like gangbusters. It’s a social-networking website that is known for being the quickest, shortest way to post messages via the web. These messages are known as tweets. Tweets are text-based, up to 140 characters and displayed on the user’s page. The user’s Twitter page can be restricted or open to the public.

And there is a lot of tweeting going on! Along with the traditional user, lots of celebrities and other “famous” people now have a Twitter page and use it to post small messages about their status and whatever else they would like to share (President Obama even has a Twitter page).

Okay, so what’s Microblogging? If you have ever text-messaged someone, you have microblogged. Microblogging is communicating with people with a short message. Examples of this include instant messaging, text messaging, e-mail, etc. An entry can be as small as one line.

If you feel like sharing your mood for the day, or where you’re going on vacation, run on over to Twitter and open an account and post a tweet. And when you get back from vacation, you’ll probably want to talk about it a little more, so tweet on your twitter page and tell them to head on over to your blog for details. Whew!

Social Networking Websites

“Connect with us.”

I see that on more websites than not these days, and under the statement are the inevitable Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, Flickr (and sometimes many more) links to the social networking websites.

Here is an interesting example as to the importance of social networking websites:

“The Blind Side” – a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw – was released on November 20, 2009. The reviews were tepid, with critics calling it “obvious” and “curiously devoid of drama”. Social networking websites changed that. Moviegoers have made it #1 at the box office through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Between the blogs and the tweets geared towards moviegoers, social networking has become the real review of a movie.

In short, social networking websites are just what they sound like – a website that is completely geared towards socially interacting and reaching out to other people via the web.

Virtual Worlds

A Virtual World is a computer-based simulation program that enables users to exist and interact in a world that they can manipulate.

Okay, what does that mean?

Have you ever heard of the website “Second Life”? It was at the forefront of that began the virtual world expansion. In Second Life, users interact with each other through avatars (a representation of him/herself of a picture) and everything on the site is three-dimensional. It was mainly thought of as a game. But then the big world of business took a look.

Corporations began to use it as a tool to interact across the internet to do things such as create a common place to meet with other corporations that existed in other parts of the world instead of having to physically meet with them. Suns Microsystems created an island in Second Life dedicated to their employees, where they could meet and share ideas, work on business strategies, etc. Educators have created virtual learning environments. Sephora USA Inc. has set up in which teens and tweens can enter a virtual store to try on makeup as an avatar or an online stand-in. To pay for their purchase, parents and their Stardoll users use a credit card (you have to set up an account first) and purchase virtual currency, which can be used at the Starplaza (interactive) mall. I am going to check it out with my teenaged daughter; it might just save me a trip to the mall.

These four examples of social networking should really help introduce you to social interaction over the internet. There are just so many aspects of social networking that there is no way I could have gone into all of them, so I hope this was enough for now. I really wish that I could talk to people about all of these things that I have learned.

Maybe I should start a blog.


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