// Academic Research and Communication Skill
// Heatherm Huang
// Multimedia Design
// Raffles Design Institute, Shanghai
Social Networking Sites Will Become the Next Basic Usage of the Internet
E-mail, instant message, and search engines are the three basic usages of the present internet. According to the trend and development, social networking will be the fourth kind of internet usage.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of need, the need of man could be divided into five stages: physiological need, safety, social intercourse, respect and the need for self-realization.
The traditional web site (Web 1.0) satisfies the demand of people to access information, while search engines, such as Google and Baidu, meet the need for information search. People need information on a daily basis – there is a hunger, as we need to eat and drink every day, but also for resolving the most basic demand. When people meet the demand for access to information, as we have enough food and water every day, the following need is to meet friends, have dinner with them, or chat – in other words, people’s social needs. Social networking resolves Maslow’s third stage of demand.
Differences between Instant Messaging and Use of Social Networking Sites to Resolve People’s Social Needs. Of course, instant messengers like MSN and QQ are resolving people’s social needs online and attempt to resolve our social needs in real time. You either connect with your friend or you do not. You send something to your friend on instant messenger because you want your friend to know it immediately. However, the reality is we have delayed social needs. For instance, we post an article on our blog or upload a photo on our online album. Usually it’s not necessary to notify all your friends about this and require them to reply or give comments immediately, as also, our friends send us something but it might be fine to delay. This is a passive or unreal-time demand for us. There are only “do” or “do not” in our real-time social needs. However, the delay appears between the “do” and “do not”. Social networking resolves our delayed social needs today.
Almost everyone has their own personal space. Through technology, the space of themselves and friends are linked to interact and share, so personal spaces are important for social networking. The development of blogs laid the foundation for personal spaces, but every blog is independent, which makes it difficult to spread the popularity of blogs. Even a blog service provider (BSP) has many blog users, but the vast majority of users have few visitors, or only the celebrities’ blog are visited.
The Concept of Absolute and Relative Value. We are doing things according to absolute value in Web1.0 and blog services. People enjoy it. However, almost all online uses are ordinary. Someone posts a blog article, but it only has relative value and has no value for the masses. For example, you post an article on your blog about where you went during Christmas. Basically, only your friend or your family may pay some attention and are interested in it. You said you got sick on your blog, but only your friend and family worried about you. Nobody in the masses will care for you. Therefore, social networking is a space to share among friends according to the relative value to solve something like the problems above. With the development of internet services, bottle-necks appeared in the services which believed in the supremacy of absolute value. Some Blog Service Providers realized this problem and the significance of relative value on internet services.
Dynamic Content Creates Real Social Networking. The core of maintaining a social website is user-generated content (UGC). In the world’s largest social networking web site, Facebook, UGC’s contribution lays in the photo album, through photographs to make comments. The popularity of digital cameras and mobile phone cameras is a very important condition to acknowledge. Without digital cameras, users contributed content will be reduced by 80 percent.
Vast majority of traditional internet web sites (WEB1.0) are static, but with the emergence of social networks, all pages can be turned from static to dynamic (database access is required for the operation), where every operation of the user requires a server to calculate. In the past, this required a lot of investment in hardware. With the cost of storage reducing, social networking web sites can even have users’ information stored in memory rather than the hard disk. At the same time, the cost of backup is much lower; the content of the website’s security is assured.
In the past, the network of making friends was a process of entertainment – find some strangers through the internet, make them friends, and establish social relations. In fact, the new relationship established in a virtual world is not solid, and likely to create fatigue. Through reversing the traditional understanding about information in internet, we have moved the true relationship in the real world into the Internet to form a real social networking website, which is enough to meet people’s social needs.
The most important part of social networking website is users. Users are the core of social networking website, without users, there is no social.
There is a network of relationships between users. This network of relationships is established by searching and collection. Through searching a name of the person you know, you can that person and establish a relationship. In the same way, once we fill out the detailed real personal information, the social networking website will present you those people who you probably have known. For example, you fill in the name and the class of the high school which you had been to, the social networking website will tell you your classmates who have registered in the website.
In the past, people were unwilling to fill their own information on the internet. For instance there would be no mention about uploading their picture in the blogs, for fearing of their information being disclosed. In reality, people often write down their own information, such as applying for credit cards. We have our own information written in a very detailed way, because we believe that banks will never publicize our information. However, in the Web1.0 era, the privacy of users couldn’t receive powerful protection. But now, social networking websites pay great attention to the protection of users’ privacy. It is possible to set up the authority to visit each piece of personal information.
UGC is the shared conditions and comments and so on among users’ blogs, pictures or others of this kind. The interaction among users can be divided into three categories: one-to-one interaction, such as internal messages, instant messaging, and messages; one-to-many interaction, such as blogs and photo albums; and, many-to-many interaction, such as BBS and chat rooms.
Value-added services have been established on the bases of which have been mentioned above. The social networking website has users, the relationship has been created by searching and collection, the users’ privacy has been given well protection, UGC, interaction, the last but not the least one is provide real service. Though social networking has met the third stage of demand, there are still the fourth and fifth stages, respect and self-realization. Social networking websites have more which can be contributed to them.
Social networking is being used on more terminals. There are more than 50,000,000 people accessing the internet through mobile phone in China. Big names such as Google and Apple have entered the field of wireless.
It is mow much more convenient to connect through social networking website. Users can demand connection anytime and anywhere. With the largest social networking website in Japan, mixi.com, the number mobile phone users numbers more than those of PC users.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, are now trying to change their website concept from social network service provider to internet operating system. In the traditional operating systems like Microsoft Windows, programmers develop software which could be run on the system by using UB, VC or other computer program compilers without worrying about drivers or network support. Through the API (Application Programming Interface), the online applications which are created by programmers can be used by used directly in the social networking website. Facebook opens its user profiles and their relationships, and there are lots of applications that have became extra services running on Facebook. Therefore, Facebook is just like an internet operating system based on social networking service.
The future of the social networking website could experience crucial competition, resulting in elimination or mergers. Only two or three larger social networking websites will remain and there could be interoperability between them, similar to MSN and Yahoo messenger users interoperability.
The social networking site’s business model is becoming clear now. Well-known brands and accurate targeted advertising are very important parts of social networking sites.
In real social networking websites, each user’s interests and hobbies and their tendency of the product demand, are held in the database of the social networking website. Through this information, a social networking website could make its online advertising more accurate than search engine advertising. It is not necessary to key any words – the users only need to log the social networking website, then they will be able to see the useful and interesting advertising.
The objective of the search engine is to allow users to leave the website as soon as possible, but the purpose of the social networking website is to have people interact with the website. This point is embodied in interactive advertising marketing, for example, a questionnaire.
Socialization of e-commerce and word-of–mouth marketing will become the main interactive businesses in social networking. If your friend recommends to you that Nokia is good, it is much more convincing than advertising. This word-of-mouth marketing will be widely used in social networking website. The purchase information of users will become one part of UGC, being shared and commented. Through word-of-mouth marketing, it is possible to bring more new orders or sales.
Personal value-add satisfies the demand of respect and self-realization, virtual items, virtual currency, and so on.
Facebook had 60 million users as of Feb 2008 and an average of 8 million new users a month. The total number of users will increase to 100 million within one year if this velocity of increase is maintained. According to Alexa’s traffic statistics, Facebook has a traffic rank of 6 in the world. The rank might be submitted Google on a given day during 2008. But Facebook needs a fulcrum to embody. More than 50 percent of users are active, which means 300 million users sign in and communicate with their friends on Facebook every day.
In the beginning, social networking sites were based on Kevin Bacon’s Six Degrees concept. This concept believes that any one person in the world is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it’s a small world. Introduced in 2002, Friendster.com was the first social networking site and the Six Degrees concept’s pioneer and practitioner. This was followed by MySpace a year later, which soon became extremely popular.
People were enthusiastic about the Six Degree-based social sites for a long time. We found the relationships between you and the famous movie star or the CEO of the international company sometimes; however, we found the concept was actually quite useless. Therefore, we can see the first degree of the relationship between friends is the most important and reliable for us.
That is the main feature of Facebook, not as a website for you to make new friends. Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you. Just like using the telephone, it would be useless if you were only person who owned a telephone. It works only if the people with which you need to communicate own a telephone as well. The more people use it, the stronger Facebook becomes.
In conclusion, every person has friends, they would like to know what is happening with their friends, and they also want their friends to know their thoughts. Social networking sites are now very popular among students and white-collar workers. They play a very important part in our social lives, and we cannot live without them every day. More and more people are finding out that social networking is a basic need, and it will inevitably become the next basic usage of the internet.
1. Maslow’s need
2. Internet basic usages current
3. Social sites trend
4. Facebook on Wikipedia
5. Six Degrees relationship
6. Next target – cellphone
7. Statistics of Facebook
8. China Web 2.0 and Social networking site report 2007 by iResearch
9. History of social network service
10. Mixi.com mobile users comes to pc users
11. Documentation of the Facebook platform