With the advent of social networking, social scientists and media experts have wondered about the benefits social networking brings to communication. While some of these are obvious, some others have only become apparent as users have become familiar with social networking. The ability to increase our networking potential or work with others regardless of distance presents new ways for us to do business. Furthermore, the ability to stay in contact with friends and family allows us to maintain closer ties to our loved ones across long distances.
Guaranteed Meeting Places
When attempting to plan meetings with colleagues or friends, having access to social networking sites expands the available times and places in which meetings can occur. Individuals can meet each other and chat over Facebook, or open a video chat through Google+. Rather than having to travel to specific locations, or try to work times out in which everyone is near a central location, people can plan to meet at times that work for all of their schedules.
Keep in Touch with Family
Keeping in contact with family through the phone or even over email presents a challenge. Instead, social networking sites allow the individual to share their day to day life in a secure but public forum, which family can watch and experience. Facebook, for example, allows people to share events, images, and thoughts in real time, during the course of any day. Family and friends can then experience all the things that someone does, and comment on them. Then, they share in the experience, rather than just being “informed” about them during weekly phone calls.
For professionals and academics, social networking sites allow users to create networks of like-minded people. Academics find other scholars to share research or ideas, or simply to talk to and “get their name out there.” Professionals find mutual friends and possible clients, employers, or business partners. Social networking expands the horizons of what sort of contacts people can make in their professional lives.
Staying Informed About the World
People on social networking sites share what interests them, such as news on current events. People who share those interests, or who just want to stay informed, can read these stories and share them as well. Eventually, these stories make their to users who may have never read them. Since stories are shared through “word of mouth,” smaller news outlets such as blogs can get exposure, and social network users are overall connected to a larger pool of new information and opinion.