According to the report of G. N. Neyaskin (2010), in “The impact of social networks in business communications”, the concept of “social networks” appeared relatively recently due to the appearance of several new technologies (RSS, blogs, etc.) and internet resources (social networks, etc.). As the internet consisted mainly of static pages, the circle of these heterogeneous phenomena is united by the fact that they all serve to facilitate the exchange of information between users compared to the technologies of the previous generation.
Currently, the concept of “social media” is not scientifically worked out. There are two common approaches to the concept of “social networks”: – how to use technology; – how to use varieties of websites. In practice, technologies are closely related to the virtual spaces that work with their help. The most popular sites that are commonly known as social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) have a unique interface work based on a certain set of technologies that make this site a unique communication tool.
During the study, G. N. Neyaskin defined social networks as a category of websites that offer the possibility of publishing, sharing and discussing content with a wide audience of users. The expression “wide audience of users” indicates that the implementation of the user’s above activities does not require special knowledge and skills. The only barrier for the user is the need to register on most of these sites: procedure that requires, at a minimum, choosing a nickname, password and specify the email address. Social media can gather an audience comparable in size to the audience of traditional media. The definition of “audience” is applicable to most of the users of social networks, since, despite the wide opportunities for feedback and the production of their own content, in reality, most users take the position of passive observers. (Neyaskin G. N., 2010).The phenomenon of feedback and interaction was considered by J. Nielsen (2006), who called this phenomenon as “Participation inequality” and proposed the formula “90-9-1”. The essence is that 90% of participants in online communities are passive observers, 9% contribute from time to time and 1% show “strong activity”.Material published in traditional media challenges opposed to social networks where it adjusted and can be change or add with the assistance of comments, or simply editing the original message. Although, in the online versions of newspapers, radio stations or television channels, as a general rule, there is a “comment” function and its purpose is rather to provide comments to the readers than to adjust the source material.In addition, defining the concept of “social networks” was also reviewed by the article by A. M. Kaplan (2010) “Users of the world, unite!”. This article discusses the problems and the opportunities that may arise in the course of evolution of the internet for companies, as well as their structure for a better understanding of the dynamic field of social media. Here, the author determined that social networks are the group of internet applications that were developed on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and allow you to create and share user content. We can also call it as “user-generated content”.Next, consider the classification of social networks. Despite a number of common characteristics, internet communication tools that fall into the category of social networks can vary considerably in terms of the functions and features they provide to users. The proposed classifications are quite arbitrary, which is associated with an increase in the functionality of the sites, providing an opportunity for group and individual self-expression in various forms, as well as with the peculiarities of the user base of each of them. The difficulty of classification also lies in the increasing integration of social networks.G. N. Neyaskin (2010) in his report on “The impact of social networks in business communications” pointed out that social networks can be divided according to their purpose. Some sites provide favorable conditions for individual expression, while the value of others lies in the cooperation of many users and this process is generally anonymous, which partly correlates with the classification of anonymity. A blog is an example of social network with a focus on the identity of the author. On the other hand, multiuser blog services provide users with the ability to create communities and generate content through the power of many users, a feature that characterizes collaborative social networks. Examples of purely collaborative social networks are Wikipedia and collective blogs. Although these resources have their owners and moderators, the flow of generated content is often great that it lacks the physical capacity to monitor it in a centralized manner, especially because it detracts from the value of this resource as a result of the joint creation of many users. Another classification is based on the fact that part of the social media mainly serve to store and place content called as “content storage”, while the other part is primarily for sharing it with other users that called “content sharing”. Examples of “repositories”: hosting videos and photos (Flickr, etc.), wiki resources and examples of “distribution points”: online social networks, blog services, team blogs, etc. (Neyaskin G. N., 2010).A different type of classification is presented in the article “Users of the world, unite!” by A. M. Kaplan (2010). He highlighted 6 types of social networks:1. Joint projects2. Blogs3. Content communities4. Social networks5. Virtual games6. Virtual worldsTable 1.Classification of social networks by presence in social networks and self-presentationSelf-presentation Media richness / social presence Low Average High High Blogs Social networking (Facebook) Virtual worlds (Second Life) Low Collaborative projects (Wikipedia) Content Community (YouTube) Virtual games (World of Warcraft)Taking into account social presence and media richness, joint projects such as Wikipedia received a low rating, because in most cases, they focus mainly on the text and leave little space for interaction or exchange of information. The next level are the content communities such as YouTube and social networks such as Facebook, which, in addition to textual communication, allow you to share images, videos and other types of content. And at the last level there are virtual worlds such as Second Life and virtual games such as World of Warcraft, which try to imitate all aspects of real interaction and communication in a virtual environment. In terms of self-presentation, blogs, in general, are much appreciated compared to joint projects, because the latter specialize in certain areas of content. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2010). In addition, the author considers in detail each of these six different types of social networks.Joint projects – allow the joint and simultaneous creation of content by many users and are the most democratic manifestation of user-generated content. There are two types of collaborative projects: wikis, where users can add, delete, and change text, and social bookmarks that enable group gathering and rating of internet links or media content. The essential idea of joint projects is the joint effort of many participants, which leads to a better result, compared to the result obtained by the participant individually. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2010). The author also emphasizes the similarity of this idea with the hypothesis – efficient market in behavioral economics. From a corporate point of view, and taking into account current trends, companies should understand that joint projects are now the main source of information for many consumers. Although not everything that is written on Wikipedia can be correct, more and more users believe that the information available on this resource can play a significant role in relation to the corporate crisis. (Ellison N.; Steinfield C.; Lampe C., 2007). Blogs ” According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2007), blogs, which are an early form of social networks, are a special type of website that usually shows entries with dates in reverse chronological order. Blogs also represent the equivalent of personal webpages and have many different variations, starting with personal diaries, describing the author’s life and ending with reviews, where all the necessary information about a specific area is collected. Blogs are usually managed by a single person, but they provide the opportunity to interact with other members by adding comments. Many companies are already using blogs to keep employees, customers and shareholders informed about events that they consider important. However, in this case, companies face two types of risks: – First, customers who for one reason or another are dissatisfied with the services / products provided by the company can leave complaints online or organize a protest in the form of websites or relevant blogs. (Wellman B., 1988). They may also spread unwanted information about companies in the online environment. – The second type of risk is that companies that encourage their employees to be active on blogs may have to deal with the resulting problems because of employees writing negatively about the company. Content communities – The main objective of content communities is to share multimedia content among users. Content communities contain various types of media, including text, photos, videos, and presentations. From a corporate point of view, content communities carry the risk of being used as a platform for the distribution of copyrighted materials. On the other hand, the high popularity of content communities makes them a very attractive contact channel for many companies; it’s easy to believe, given that YouTube serves more than 100 million videos per day. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2010). Social networks – are platforms that allow users to interact with each other, create profiles with personal information, invite friends or colleagues, and exchange instant messages. Such profiles may contain personal information of various types: they may be photos, videos, audio or a blog (diary). Some companies use this networks to support the creation of brand communities (Muniz A. M.; O’Guinn T. C., 2001) or for marketing research in the context of netnography. (Kozinets R. V., 2002). Virtual games – The virtual gaming world is a platform that mimics a three-dimensional environment where users can present themselves as personalized avatars and interact with each other as in real life. In this sense, virtual worlds are the main manifestation of social media, since they provide the highest level of social presence and media richness among all the applications analyzed previously. A type of virtual game requires that its users behave according to strict rules in the context of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The rules of such games basically limit the degree of self-presentation, however, some users spend so much time in such games that their characters become more and more like real people. In addition to integrated advertising, virtual games can also be used in traditional communication campaigns. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2010). Virtual worlds – The virtual world allows residents to behave more freely and, in fact, to live a virtual life, similar to real life. As in virtual games, users of the virtual world can present themselves as avatars and interact in a virtual three-dimensional environment; however, there are no rules in this area that limit the range of possible interactions. Therefore, a wide range of self-presentation strategies is available here. It was also found that by increasing the intensity of use and consumption experience, users of virtual social worlds, or “residents”, as they prefer to call themselves, behave as they would in real life situations. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2009). Virtual worlds offer many opportunities for companies working in the field of marketing (advertising / communication, online sales, market research), as well as in the field of human resources and internal process management. (Haenlein M.; Kaplan A. M., 2010). Another type of classification was reviewed by the Digital Ingate Agency (Promotion in social networks: numbers, trends, recommendations. – where social networks are divided into mass, thematic and photo / video accommodation. Mass social media is designed for any internet user where you can communicate on any topic (Facebook). Thematic social media have some kind of communication focus: by interest or professional. Photo and video hosting services involve communication through commenting photos and video clips. (YouTube). The emergence of social networks has attracted millions of users, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily lives. Most of these sites maintain existing social connections, but others help unfamiliar people find each other based on common interests, political views or their activities. N. B. Ellison in her article “Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship” examined in detail the phenomenon of social networks, starting with their definition and history, and ending with their further research. (Boyd D. M.; Ellison N. B., 2008). Early years – The prototype of the first social networks are the traditional forums, which appeared for the first time in the nineties. In these sites, people can lead discussions and share different opinions and experiences. This period can be called the era of internet sites, or the era of one-sided connections, when websites and applications created by the companies were primarily focused on their customers. At the same time, the communication of simple members of the network, which grew rapidly, was limited only to internet forums. Therefore, in the early stages of the development of a one-way communication model, professionals created information and users consumed it.