A social network used to mean nothing more than a group of people linked together via common interests or a pattern of social relationships. Similarly, a professional network referred to a group of people tied together by professional relationships or career-related interests. These days, nearly any type of network that exists in the “real world” can also exist in the “virtual world,” which expands the connection possibilities exponentially. Although Facebook is typically associated with social relationships, Twitter with information-sharing, and Linkedin with the virtual Rolodex, these platforms embody the same principles: building online communities and sharing information. In the academic world, traditional campuses are slowly learning how to engage online learners by following the same principles.
The big three social networking platforms (by number of users as of January 2015) are listed below:
- FACEBOOK – 900 million users
- TWITTER – 310 million users
- LINKEDIN – 255 million