Ever since the Internet was introduced to the public, many changes have taken place. It was originally created to facilitate communication between scientists and researchers of different universities. They wanted to share information through the amazing machines that they already have. Out of the necessity to communicate with others, the Internet was born and many applications were created as well. This paper will document how social networking and marketing blossomed on the web, including why these became the trend among people.
The subject that has anything to do with Internet is interesting because it has become a fundamental device that caters to the different needs of its users. It will also be interesting to know the future for the web. Social Networking on the Web Among the web applications that instantly became a hit among users, especially the young at heart, are the social networking sites/websites (SNSs). Many choices have been offered to the users, including Friendster and Facebook which have gained countless users around the world.
These sites have proven to be a hit, as evidenced by how users have integrated these SNSs into their daily lives (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 1) and how the industry grew to be multibillion-dollar (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007, p. 95). SNSs have become extremely popular among users because these sites enable them to connect with friends even from anywhere. Furthermore, users can send mails and messages, pictures and other attachments. They can also post their blogs, make changes on their personal profile, and meet other people (Vickery, Wunsch-Vincent, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007, p. 8).
These sites are unique in that users can articulate their social networks and make them visible. These have resulted to connections that would have been otherwise impossible to establish. Among large SNSs, the usual activity is that people communicate with others who are already a part of their social networks (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 2). Another characteristics of SNSs that attracted the interest of users are the practices that these sites support. This result to varied culture among different SNSs.
Some of these maintain social networks that are already existing while others assist users in connecting with other people based on shared interests or activities. Additionally, most of these sites offer their services to diverse audience. Some people meet and are connected through common identities. Another common thing among these sites is that they “incorporate new information and communicate tools” including blogging and sharing of photos and/or videos (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 1). History of SNSs The rise of SNSs took place during the late 1990s, as spearheaded by the launch of SixDegrees. com.
This site enabled its users to create their own profiles and list friends. By 1998, the new feature allows users to surf the list of their friends. However, these features have already been existing, especially among dating sites and community sites. In addition, AIM and ICQ are among sites which support list of friends, although friends are not visible to some users. Another minor site that appeared was the Classmates. com, which attracted people who wanted to connect with their high school or college. Users were also able to surf the network for friends affiliated with the high school or college.
However, the shortcoming of this site was that people could not create their profiles or even list their friends. It was only later when these shortcomings were resolved, and SixDegrees was credited as the first SNS to apply combined features (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 4). SixDegrees was not able to be a sustainable business and closed down in 2000. Some of the reasons for its closing down was that it was ahead of its time, according to its founder.
Additionally, users took note that after accepting friends’ request, there was nothing else to do. Added to this was that some people did not want to meet strangers (Boyd and Ellison, n. . , p. 4). Certain improvements have been undertaken. For five years following the launch of SixDegrees, some people were able to support a combination of features that SixDegrees lacked. Users would be able to create their own profiles and articulate friends. Some sites, such as BlackPlanet and MiGente, supported features for the creation of profiles, either personal, dating, or professional ones. Shortly after, LiveJournal was launched, allowing a one-directional connections. Similar sites were created by other countries, each one introducing new or improved features.
Guestbooks and diary pages were also added to these sites (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 5). The business use of SNSs began upon the creation of Ryze. com in 2001. Primarily, the site was offered for use among the business and technology community. Among these were entrepreneurs who have been instrumental in the creation of future SNSs. In fact, those who were behind the creation of certain sites such as Ryze. com, Friendster, LinkedIn, and Tribe. net knew each other on a personal and professional level and believed that they could help each other without the competition. A few years later and the sites have different destinies. Ryze. om did not boom while Tribe. net grew in popularity. LinkedIn, on the other hand, became among the top business services and Friendster has become very significant (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 5).
With the popularity and availability of various SNSs, many people have multiple accounts. For instance, they separate their personal account from business account. Either way, it has been a common trend among users to constantly update or add information on their accounts. SNSs became tools for these people to connect with their friends and colleagues, many of whom would prefer to use one SNS over another (Golbeck and Rothstein, 2008, p. ).
As more and more people became ‘addicted’ to these sites, surveys and studies have been conducted to try to identify users and to determine the factors that drive people into this ‘addiction. ‘ In 2007, a survey was conducted which aimed to determine the relationship between teens and social networking sites. The survey found out that 55% of teens online use SNSs. In addition, 55% of teens have their own online profiles, wherein older teens were more likely to use one or some of these SNSs. These teens were aged from 12-17. Girls used these sites to “reinforce pre-existing friendships.
On the other hand, boys used these sites for flirting and making friends (Lenhart and Madden, 2007, p. 1). The key findings of the survey also showed that teens were wary about who can view their profiles. Out of 935 respondents, 66% relayed that they set limit on who can access their personal profiles. Furthermore, it was determined that majority (48%) of the teens check SNSs everyday or more regularly. However, 22% of them visit the sites several times each day. The survey also pointed out that 70% of older girls aged 15-17 used SNS compared to older boys, which accounted to 54%.
The primary reason for their having accounts on SNSs is managing their friendships, of which 91% of the respondents said that they stay in touch with friends that they meet on a regular basis. Those who said that SNSs helped them manage friendships with others that they do not see were 82% of the respondents (Lenhart and Madden, 2007, p. 2). On the other hand, 72% of teens found SNSs useful for other purposes such as making plans with their friends while 49% of teens deemed that SNSs provide opportunities for making new friends. Older boys are more likely to use SNSs for making friends than older girls (Lenhart and Madden, 2007, p. ).
The Industry Today Aside from the popular ones, more than 200 SNSs are in existence. They exist and offer users with many purposes, such as business, blogging, dating, photos, socializing, and entertainment (Golbeck and Rothstein, 2008, p. 2). Among all of these, only a few became very popular among its users. These include MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook. Other equally popular sites include YouTube and Twitter (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 5). Among these SNSs, MySpace became the dominant one. It was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe in 2003.
It was immediately became a hit, especially among teenagers (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007, p. 95). As soon as it was introduced to the public, the membership blossomed from zero to 47. 3 million in just two years. In 2007, it was reported that MySpace remains the number one among the fastest growing web sites in the United States. In 2006, the number of members was 100 million, including those who have inactive accounts. It remains the most popular among Americans (Vickery, Wunsch-Vincent, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007, pp. 24 and 38).
According to the founders of MySpace, the site aimed to “attract estranged Friendster users. ” During its earlier times, there were rumors regarding Friendster’s fee-based system. Members encouraged others to join other SNSs such as MySpace and Tribe. net. This has enabled MySpace to grow in such a short time, taking advantage of the alienation of the old members of Friendster. In addition, Friendster lost a substantial number of members when it expelled indie-rock bands for not complying with regulations. These bands encouraged other members to use other SNSs (Boyd and Ellison, n. . , p. 8).
Bands have greatly helped in expanding the site, which began when indie-rock bands created their own profiles. In turn, local promoters of these bands used MySpace for advertisement purposes. In response to this, MySpace got involved, seeing how it can help local musicians. Although bands were partly responsible for the expansion, the main reason for such opportunity was the relationship between bands and their fans. The relationship was said to be mutually beneficial, wherein bands can contact their fans through the website while fans wanted attention from these bands.
In addition, fans used the features Friend connections to show their affiliation and identity. Thus, it has helped MySpace to grow beyond Friendster users (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 8). Another factor that keep people interested in MySpace is that the website constantly add features that are popular among members. Also, members can personalize their pages. By 2004, MySpace became a hangout among teenagers. According to past researchers, the surge of teens into the site was brought about by their desire to connect with their favorite bands. Other teens were encouraged by their family members to join.
In turn, these teenagers encouraged their friends to be members as well. As more and more teens joined, MySpace decided to accommodate minors by changing its policy; thus, it has further contributed to the expansion. In addition, three populations emerged. The first one consists of musicians/artists, the second one of teenagers, and the third one of post-college crowd (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 9). Another popular SNSs among the public is Friendster, which was launched earlier than MySpace. It was created in mid-2002 to be a “social complement to Ryze. com” (Kornblum, 2006).
This was because its creator, Jonatham Adams, used to be a Ryze member (UC Berkeley, n. d. ). In November 2004, the membership was merely 966,000, a far cry from MySpace’s 4. 9 million membership in the same year. A year later, Friendster’s membership blossomed to 1. 5 million (Kornblum, 2006). Adams created the site to be an online dating site against Match. com. Friendster’s main purpose was to assist friends-of-friends to meet, assuming that they are more likely to become romantic partners than strangers.
The site became popular among three populations: bloggers, gay men, and attendees of a festival (Boyd and Ellison, n. . , p. 7). Friendster, which targets young adults (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007, p. 97), aims to help its users in getting in touch with their friends and meeting new people. Users can also connect with their families, school, and social groups while at the same time provide information about their activities and interests through their personal profiles. Friendster claimed that it delivers a user-friendly environment where friends can interact with each other from anywhere in the world (Friendster Inc, 2009). However, the site lost a substantial number of users following the introduction of MySpace to the public.
Technical difficulties have also contributed to the decreasing number of the site’s members (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 7). Among the challenges that Friendster faced was technical and social difficulties. It was not abl e to adjust its servers and databases to cope up with the burgeoning growth. Thus, users would constantly have to deal with the faltering site. Moreover, the site has to contend with the onslaught of new users, further upsetting the cultural balance. The social context has also collapsed because of the exponential growth.
To add to these challenges were the restrictions that Friendster imposed on its users (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 7). Meanwhile, another SNS was in popularity among its users: Facebook. It was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard student taking up computer science (Facebook, 2009). Originally, it was intended for Harvard use among its students and faculty. In fact, users were required to have a harvard. edu email address (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 9). However, more changes were in store for the new SNS, as it began supporting schools aside from Harvard.
University email addresses were still required from the new users, thus distinguishing Facebook as a private community (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 9). By 2005, Facebook added high school students and professionals among its users. Later on, Facebook became openly available for everyone (Boyd and Ellison, n. d. , p. 10). Even those who do not go to school can open their accounts. For students who were going to college, signing up in Facebook gives them the opportunity to meet their future classmates (Skibinski, 2007). The difference of Facebook from other SNSs is that it does not facilitate dating or meeting new people.
It serves as a directory that gives special attention to real life and not just a site connecting strangers from others. According to the spokesperson of Facebook, the site enables its users to exchange information and it provides information to its users (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 2006). According to Facebook, the active users reached over 200 million, of which half of them access the site on a daily basis. Although it was primarily intended for colleges, people of 35 years and older comprised the fastest growing demographic. The SNS is equally popular among other countries.
In fact, users from the United States only comprised 30%; the rest were from other countries (Facebook, 2009). Marketing on the Web The Internet became the best place to conduct business, and this is something that entrepreneurs recognized since the introduction of the Internet to the public. Large companies such as WalMart, eBay, Amazon. com, and banking institutions have established their own web sites where their customers can easily reach them. But these were not the only companies which resorted to the web. The web becomes a home to a vast array of businesses that directly cater to their customers online.
More and more people surf the Internet whether for entertainment, business, research, and other purposes. When families need a new car, they would surf the Internet, type some keywords, and click away and information is readily available to them. When people want some products to purchase, they also go first to the Internet. It has become the trend today, given the ease that surfing the Internet provides to the users. Furthermore, entrepreneurs can reach the greatest number of audience through the Internet at any one time, something that is hard to accomplish through a more personal business transaction.
When it comes to marketing on the Internet, entrepreneurs and nearly everyone can avail of the easier way. However, they have to adjust to the new rules, as the web changed the old rules of marketing. According to Scott, people knew of marketing as advertising, which needs to appeal to the audience. In addition, advertising was more of a one-way process, wherein the company offers its products to the customers. However, these rules changed when it comes to marketing on the web (2007, p. 8). Most of businesses have aligned their existing marketing practices as a complement to the use of Internet for marketing purposes.
It can help businesses in expanding their operations and establishing new business opportunities. Acording to the experts, marketing over the Internet can be successful once businesses have applied the strengths of the medium to their marketing practices in ways that can attract the attention of potential customers. In the traditional process, marketing consists of the four Ps, including price, product, place, and promotion. When businesses use the web to further their marketing, there exists a fifth P, which is people (Global Millenia Marketing Inc, n. d. ). Advantages of Marketing on the Web
Perhaps the primary reason why companies conduct marketing on the web is low cost. A small company can set up a web site in a much smaller price, which is fixed. It means that the company can reach as many customers for the same price. They only have to keep up with maintenance and updating (Global Millenia Marketing Inc, n. d. ). In line with this, marketing on the Internet involves low overhead, as one only needs to have a computer which can be purchased at a cheap price. Furthermore, internet service provider is also cheap (“Top 8 Advantages of Internet Marketing,” 2008).
Companies have to take advantage of the strengths of the Internet and its applications in marketing to their target audience. For instance, they can use multimedia, as it showed that catchy advertisements are more likely to attract potential customers. Catchy advertisements may be in the form of a picture or slogan, complete with pictorial design and text. Companies can also make use of videos or audios (sound effects or music). They only have to think of creative ways to appeal more to Internet users (Bacak, 2009). Another advantage of marketing on the Internet is the broad reach it provides.
According to Wilson, an online business at the beginning has an average of 200-1,000 visitors in a week. However, there are more people who surf the Internet on a daily basis. The companies can take advantage of this by marketing their products or services to the right visitors (1996). Many available applications on the Internet can be used for business purposes. News releases, podcasts, and blogs can be used to reach a wider audience directly. The advantage in using these applications is that their content can be updated frequently.
Thus, visitors of the company’s website get the information firsthand. In addition, the distribution of materials is cost-effective, unlike the traditional way. And another advantage to marketing on the Internet is that companies can present information at the convenience of their customers. In line with this, companies can take advantage of gathering information from their customers via questionnaires, surveys, and suggestions without having to require for a personal meeting. This goes back to the advantage of having a wider reach among potential customers (Potomac KnowledgeWay Project, 2000).
Additionally, companies can put into use the power of the Internet by monitoring the acvitity to check who comes in and when. Marketing online can also help the cmpanies in determining which pages are constantly checked and which ones are mainly ignored. But beyond all these, the secret to a successful marketing is through content. According to marketing experts, it is important for businesses to consider the inclusion of thoughtful content and not just advertising on their web sites because these will attract the customers that they want (Potomac KnowledgeWay Project, 2000).
In the following years, more changes will be seen in how Internet is used for socializing and doing business. Perhaps more SNSs will be introduced to the users, or some SNSs will be gone. One sure thing is that companies will think of more ways to attract customers to their websites, and more features will be offered that will make the users’ time surfing the Internet a more worthwhile activity. Additionally, companies will continue to use the Internet for their marketing because of the opportunities that it can offer. Given the many features that people have come up with, the future of the Internet is indeed promising.
It can be an effective tool for communication and socialization activities without degrading the traditional way that people interact with their friends and families. Further recommendations include a detailed answer to the question about why SNSs became the accepted trend among people of all ages. More past studies can be incorporated, including studies done inside the United States and studies done in other countries where the social networking sites are more popular. Additionally, it is recommended to study why a particular site is not popular in one country but is widely used in another.