The Pros and cons of social networking websites.

The phenomenon of social networking has taken over modern society. It has become the letter writing of the digital age. In just a few clicks of a button and the frantic tapping of keys, messages are passed instantaneously. Long gone are the days in which people would write their thoughts down on paper, instead they are published on websites for the majority to see. As technologies have developed and become more advanced, it is now increasingly easier to keep in touch with the people who may live halfway around the world, or old school friends that we haven’t seen in years. The majority of people would have joined a social networking site such as facebook in order to socialise virtually. Whilst sat at your desk at work its very easy to log in and converse with colleagues or friends. Conversations that simply would not have been possible before social networking took hold.

But how much of your life has the phenomenon taken over? Social networking can be hugely addictive. Ever logged on just to contact one person and become engrossed in the status updates of Facebook or the hundreds of tweets on Twitter. Its not just the ability to tell the whole of your Facebook  circle of friends what you are doing or “what is on your mind?” It is possible to tag people in photos, give them virtual gifts or poke them. I mean what is poking? First you receive a message saying you have been poked by ……. Then you find yourslef poking them back, then before you know it you have a full out poke war on your hands. Checking your facebook account every half an hour just so you can see if you have been poked. It is very annoying being physically poked by somebody, yet it can be fun and addictive in the world of social networking. It can be very easy to get carried away in constantly updating Facebook Status’s. But does everybody really need to know what you ate for breakfast or what television programme you are watching. Yet it has become the socially accepted thing to do.

So with the majority of people out there logging on to social networking sites on a regular basis, what a great medium for advertising. It is a very clever way to capture the attention of millions with a few carefully placed adverts. Businesses have the ability to take full advantage of using social media in order to promote their product or service and build their Brand image. Social Media Optimisation (SMO) makes it possible to increase an advertising campaign capturing a much wider audience by using these social networking sites as a platform. It is not just brand building and marketing that businesses can now use SMO for. Increasingly smart businesses are using social media in order to increase employee engagement, to help recruitment and building customer relations. So with such powerful tools it would seem stupid not to use them.

Another drawback in social networking is it’s misuse. Personal details are often required in order to build profiles. If a person is unfamiliar with the levels of privacy settings and the restrictions they can place on who can view their profiles they can often leave themselves open to identity theft. A social network is essentially a massive database that can be accessed by vast amounts of individulas. This therefore increases the risks of exploiting information. There are always risks that employees may involuntary leak information by posting information on a social networking website. Extending from this there is always the danger that a brand can be damaged through the use of social networking. In the same way that social networking can be used to build brand image, it can just as easily be used to attack a brand. By distorting information and displaying it for the masses to see, reputations can ultimately be destroyed.

As with most things in life, there are benefits and drawbacks to social networking. The convenience and ease of keeping in touch with people, the platform it provides for marketing and building brand image are just a couple of reasons that the phenomenon of social networking has taken such a powerful hold in today’s society. There will always be dangers with such large information databases. But so long as the right controls are in place then there is no reason it shouldn’t be used to it’s full capacity. So to answer the question should I delete my Facebook account, the answer is no. The possibilities are just endless.