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Social networking is the act of using a dedicated network or website to communicate with other people who are members of the same site by posting messages on them and other media like videos and photographs (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Online social networking is one of the cheapest, fastest and most effective means of communication in the twenty first century. People in social networks often join groups guided by common interests and, as an individual spends more time on the networks, their own specific network of friends keeps expanding.

Digital technology has made the spread of social networking easier and faster. The social network has endless possibilities due to the millions of people who are available on it and the first hand information they have with them. However, not everyone is receiving the idea of social networking with open arms. Some people see it as a waste of time for those involved. Also it is viewed as an endeavor that amounts to no good. While this may be true to a very small extent, social networking is of greater advantage to the whole world.

Social networking has been embraced by so many people around there world. This must mean that there are thing that there are benefits of social networking that are attracting this many people. The popularity of social networks is evident by its continuous growth and the multiplication of the number of sites. The most obvious reason for their popularity is the ease of use. They sites are easy to navigate and have less procedural restrictions before one gets to use them.

Another reason is that it makes it much easier to meet people online and, an individual get to know more about someone before accepting them as a friend (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). For instance, on the social networking site Facebook, when a friend request is sent, one can read the details on the person's profile before decoding to be their friend and they can also un-friend them in case things do not go as planned.

Another reason is that social networking sites are free and only require that one registers by giving basic information. However, there are some sites that require on e to pay like Classmates. These sites are good for people who want their social networking activities to be exclusive. In addition, these sites come in a range of formats giving just about everyone an option that will suit them.

Finally, some social networking sites offer incentives that people want like getting a free website or being able to download music for free after you join. Some popular social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Classmates, Yahoo! 360 and MySpace (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). There are two kinds of social networks; the traditional ones that anyone can join and the specialty ones that focus on particular interests like dating.

There are various advantages of using social networking sites. In the case of dating sites, they are advantageous because an individual literally has millions of people to choose from and there is no confusion as to what they are looking for since they are on a dating site (Boyd, 2006). However, there are some disadvantages like the fact that these sites may require paid membership and could lead to high costs.

Also, there are concerns about safety since people can claim to be people they are not on the internet. This may be so, but an individual could choose to join a site that does not require and also, it is easier to discontinue a relationship if they suspect deception. Thus, the social network will be beneficial to the user.

Another major advantage of social networking is that businesses can use them to promote their businesses. The goal of any business is to make money and, in order to make money; they need more customers who can use their goods and services. Social networks provide them with a forum where they can meet millions of customers worldwide and get to know what they want. It is an unlimited source of information for businesses that provides them with blueprints on what needs their goods and services should address. In addition, they can advertise their new products for their customers to know about. An individual cannot buy something that they do not know exists.

To add onto that they can get some form of feedback and an idea of how, their products and services rate with the public. Online advertising is cheaper than other forms of advertising and once the word is out, it will most likely spread within the people. For instance, a company could have a page on where it updates its status with information about their products and the company as a whole. If one person likes it, it will be suggested to their friends who may decide to like it too. The company's updates will appear on the homepages of all those who like the page.

The fact that social networking originally started as an idea to promote businesses is a testimony to its advantage as a business strategy. Social networks are not only useful in connecting businesses with their customers but also in linking them with other businesses. They can exchange ideas and get new sources and markets for their material. Also, they can form partnerships. This is especially beneficial to those who run online businesses. There are sites that are specifically for business interests. However, it is important for businesses to have departments that deal with all the information that they will have collected through their online activities. It will help them come up with effective strategies from the statistics available for them to use.

Another advantage is that social networking opens up the society to the world of entertainment where they can connect with celebrities on a relatively more personal level. People always want some form of entertainment to make their lives more interesting and fun. To this respect, social networking is doing a superb job of allowing people to exchange ideas with their stars and to find other people who are fans of the same celebrity. Famous people have pages and some can even be friends of their fans (Boyd, 2006). For instance, a celebrity can have a MySpace page where he puts a video answering all the questions that their fans have put out to them.

In addition, the celebrity can use social network to advertise an upcoming release or project. Other people can also post their own videos and MySpace and get fans. Another advantage is that social networks increase the exposure of individuals to other types of cultures and political structures. By doing so, leaders may choose to embrace different structures of politics that have been more effective in other areas. This improves the overall health of a country. Political change can also happen within an individual who may have a more flexible mindset from increased exposure. As a result, they will be more open to other ideas and realize what may not be good for them.

In conclusion, social networking has advantages that over ride its disadvantages. The world is moving towards becoming a more connected global network connected through social networks. There is something for everyone and any doubts as to the impact of social networks on different aspects of life like businesses, relationships, entertainment and politics should be discarded. Social networks address aspects of life that people deem important to development. Therefore, they should not be rejected but rather incorporated as much as possible in areas they can help.

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