Overview of Social Networking Sites
Social networking is a phenomenon which has existed since society began. Human beings have always sought to live in social environments. The proliferation of social networking sites (SNS) and their pervasion in everyday practices is affecting how Western societies manage their social networks. To a significant extent, SNS have shifted social networking to the Internet. In less than five years, these sites have grown from a niche online activity into a phenomenon through which tens of millions of internet users are connected, both in their leisure time, and at work.
There are various factors which have prompted us to consider the implications of ...view middle of the document...
Some sites cater to diverse audiences, while others attract people based on common language or shared racial, sexual, religious, or nationality-based identities. Sites also vary in the extent to which they incorporate new information and communication tools, such as mobile connectivity, blogging, and photo/video-sharing.
Depending on your vantage point, social networking represents:
— A fad, especially among the young and tech-obsessed
— An unprecedented too
----for keeping in touch with friends and family
— A disruptive, unscripted environment
— An unparalleled opportunity for brands and consumers to make real connections
— Some combination of all of the above…and then some
Interestingly, despite all the talk – the water cooler pronouncements, the breathless media coverage, and the teenage conversations you may have overheard at home and in your communities – social networking remains a relatively new and under-examined topic.
With technological advances, the number of people going ‘online’ is increasing exponentially. Globally, more than 200+ million people use social networking (SN) sites each month. 
This is the age of Social Networking; and in this age, people are not just connecting personally (as with common friends) but are connecting with everything personal. The colossal number of Twitter following, number of hits on YouTube videos (more than 2 billion views daily), the amount of content shared on Facebook (over 1.5 million web links, news stories, blog posts, photos, notes etc daily) and the sheer number of Blogs in the cloud is a clear evidence of the social media becoming an untamable giant. If you can’t beat them, join them; is the age old adage and ‘join them’ is precisely what marketers all over the globe are doing. 
According to figures recently revealed by Regus, 52% of businesses globally now use the channel. In fact, three-quarters (74%) of businesses around the globe agree that their marketing initiatives could not be successful without engaging consumers on social networks. 
Introduction of topic
Apart from the endless benefits all might know, Social network marketing creates value for a brand by making more consumers want to buy a product and by increasing advocacy (word of mouth). Research conducted by TNS, TRU and Marketing Evolution and commissioned by Fox Interactive Media Inc., Isobar and Carat USA shows two sources of value creation in social networking: The classic ad effect, where a business communicates to a consumer, or B2C, and the consumer to consumer, or C2C, effect when one consumer uses the brand as a reference point in her personal profile or passes along the information to a friend.
In the virtual world, social networking users are...