How do I Choose the Best Social Network?
Choosing the best social network is about finding the right fit, not about which service provides the most features overall. Vast social networking services may provide a lot of options, but they can also be overwhelming and take up a lot of time. An even balance between helpful features and time-consuming distractions must be reached. Another consideration is whether or not the people one wishes to network with use the service in question. Other problems, such as safety and privacy, are usually avoided by using popular and well-maintained social networking services, although making sure not to include revealing data is a personal responsibility as well.
A social networking service in its most basic form includes the ability to connect with other people and, through connecting with those people, extend connections to even more people. In order for the social network to connect people, many people need to use the service. Given this basic fact, a popular social networking service is almost always a better choice than a very small one. An exception to this rule is when one is networking with people who are connected by a specific interest, area, or other inclusion factor. In this case, a small network that includes a large percentage of the relevant people who exist may be a good choice.
Many social networks are built around not only connecting with other people, but also providing information and interacting with them. Interaction may be through chats, games, or even video. The level of effort one wants to put into the network should be considered before choosing a site.
While some social networks cost money to join, many are free. These are often the best social networks because they are open to a large number of people and one can quit at any time without major losses. A social network should also be safe, particularly if the user is a child, because online interactions are not equivalent to face-to-face interactions, and many activities that are considered inappropriate in person are acceptable online. The potential for a child to encounter undesirable materials online is great, and the potential for the child to meet an undesirable friend online through a social network is also somewhat large if unmonitored.
It is also worth mentioning that it is still possible to choose a social network that is not mediated by a social networking service. One can choose to be a node in any large network merely by meeting and interacting with people, and this network can be maintained by basic methods such as communicating by email or phones. Of course, all people are already in a social network of this type whether or not they choose to enter it. In general, a social network maintained by the commitment of its members rather than through a service has infinite potential to adapt to the needs of the members of that network.
I haven't run into any social network site that is problem-free. I say you should find one that has a large enough membership pool to choose from, and also offers other options like games or music so you can entertain yourself when things are slow.
I have found over the years that different social network sites appeal to different age groups. I started off by joining a popular (at least at the time) social network that was geared more towards a younger crowd and young musicians. I met some interesting people on it, but it was nearly impossible for us to communicate in real time, like a chat or instant message or newsfeed. I decided it was too much work to figure out how to do very basic things like uploading photos.
I then joined the biggest social network of them all, and I found that their page design was much more intuitive and user friendly. I "friended" a lot of people from my hometown and other people I worked with or went to school with. I still participate, but a lot of those original friends have either quit the site or have lost interest in communicating with me. I like the idea of this social network platform, but I can see it's becoming less and less popular with people my age.
Ideally, I think the best social network limits its focus to the things I'm really interested in. I'd like to find a site that has movies as its focus, then another site for music and another for books. I also think it's important to consider the average age of site users and your own tolerance for rude or offensive behavior.
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