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Social Media Research: Social Networking Site (SNSs)

A guide to conducting scholarly research on social media.

Social Media

Social media encompasses a broad variety of websites, including social networking sites, blogs, wikis, photo sharing, social reading, and more.

Most of the sites on this page fall into more than one category, so it is important to keep that in mind when conducting research on social media.

Social Networking Sites (SNSs)

Definition: Social networking sites (SNSs) are "web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system" (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 1).

Below is a selection of popular SNSs for both personal and professional use.

  • Facebook is a SNS that people "use... to stay connected to friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them" (
  • Twitter "is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions, and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations" (
  • Google+ is a SNS with some unique features, such as Hangouts, which allow for small group video chats (
  • LinkedIn seeks to "connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do" (
  • "is a platform for academics to share research papers. The company's mission is to accelerate the world's research" (
  • Myspace was once a SNS juggernaut, but after Facebook's rise to prominence, multiple ownership changes, and several redesigns, it is a shadow of its former self. However, it still exists today and serves as an interesting case study for scholars of social media.
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