Since Web2.0 emerged in the early 2000s, dynamic, personal, and user-generated content platforms have boomed. It seems there are new social media platforms created daily, offering fresh opportunity for self-expression and display.
Social Media Definition
What is social media? The term refers to any Web site or application used for social interaction or networking. Each platform you use will include a personal description and interests list, and the ability to connect with other people. Selecting which social medias to use may seem like a daunting task. New users should start with the largest platforms, since they are most established, and thus most imitated. Below are the top five social media sites, ordered by eBizMBA.com with traffic ranking from Compete and Quantcast.
With nearly three times the monthly visitors than the second largest platform, Facebook is the social media giant. The Facebook user interface offers two main pages. Your “timeline” shows all of your activity (posts), and posts linking directly to you. Your “newsfeed” displays posts by any person you are “Friends” with, any groups you have “Joined,” or any company you “Like.” Facebook is best used for personal/professional exhibition, event organization, and group discussion.
“Tweeting” on Twitter is akin to Facebook status updates, except Tweets are limited to 140 characters, some of which may be reserved for “tagging.” Using the ‘@’ symbol in a Tweet indicates a direct interaction with another user. Using a hashtag, ‘#’ designates a discussion category. Because of the character limit, Twitter is best used for quick content sharing and topical discussions.
This business-centric social media model is actually one year older than Facebook. In addition to status updates, LinkedIn also encourages users to promote each other with skill “Endorsements” and professional “Recommendations.”
This is the only top social site without status updates. Pinterest puts a visual-spin on social bookmarking. Your “Pin Boards” are categorized by content-interest. Each “Pin” includes an image and description, and generally links back to an originating site for additional information. Users can follow, and re-Pin items friends’ boards.
The youngest top site is run by search engine company Google.com, and integrates with Gmail accounts. The “Home” and “Profile” pages mirror Facebook Newsfeed and Timeline. Google+ “Circles” and video “Hangouts” are the major differentiators between the two. While Facebook Friends can be categorized, the process is more implicit on Google+, and currently, Facebook does not offer video-chatting.