- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Guest blogger Abbas Jaffer is a fellow at the Buxton Initiative, a Case Foundation partner organization.
A lot of technology sites, like ReadWriteWeb and Mashable discuss the social web: a place where you and I share our thoughts, our causes and information on the internet with one another. The heart of the social web, and indeed its forerunner, is the social network. Understanding how social networks work, and how they can be leveraged for causes is necessary background as we enter into the age of the social web.
Wikipedia defines an online social network as “focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.” Community-building is the main activity that goes on a social networking website. If you look at any social network on the web, it will consist of three major pieces:
- Your presence – a personalized profile, or homepage where you can upload a picture of yourself, write up what your interests are, and share links from around the web that you really liked/hated/found thought-provoking. Also, you can show who your friends are. Which leads to...
- The ability to “friend” or add people as visible social connections on your network. They could be your close offline friends, classmates, coworkers, or pretty much anyone. In some ways, online friendships are very different than friendship offline, such as the fact that adding someone as a friend does not carry the obligations of frequent contact or comment on others' profiles and links.
- A way to group with other people. You can start or join existing groups on social networks. Some examples of groups: users that are in the same city or region, fans of a particular sports team, or readers who follow the works of a particular author.
When it comes to social networks, the key is reaching out, updating others on what you are up to, and generally – being digitally outgoing.
Some helpful resources: