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March 04, 2007

Social Media Sites: A Handy Reference Guide

By Li Evans

Social Media Sites - just what are they?  While moderating the Social Media & Tagging forum over at Cre8asite Forums, I've become inspired to come up with a list of what makes up Social Media.  Since a lot of people have different ideas about Social Media and what it does or doesn't include, there's no one solid answer.  So I wanted to offer a place of reference for the audience to see all the different working parts of Social Media in easy to reference post.

Social Media Sites - Social News:
NewsvineSocial news site are places that users of a service or members of the community can submit news articles and then the community votes them up or down.  Members can also comment on thes e submissions and conversations can ensue about the stories validity.  General sites have categories to submit stories too, however there is a rising tide of genre (topic, gender, geographical) specific social news sites to look out for.
Example sites:  Digg, Reddit, Netscape, Newsvine, I-Am-Bored, Searchmob, Shoutwire, Bringr

Social Media Sites - Photo Sharing:
Photobucket_1 Flickr is probably the best known social photo sharing site around among our "search circles", but Photobucket is probably still more widely used.  It's also a great way to share not just photos, but information about those photos.  Most social photo sharing sites now allow you to add a lengthy description of the photos, geotags about the pictures and tags that you feel relate to the pictures you are sharing.  Along with the owner adding this information, your friends and group members can add comments to the pictures.
Example sites:  Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, Webshots Community, Kodak Gallery, ImageShack, SnapFish

Social Media Sites - Video Sharing:
Revver_1 Unless you've been living under a rock this past year, you know about Google's acquisition of YouTube.  However, there's more than just YouTube out there when it comes to video sharing and this is probably the fastest growing area of Social Media out there.  New ventures are popping up all the time and being acquired as well.  Jumpcut was acquired by Yahoo last year, so Google's not alone in recognizing the importance of this channel of the market.  Social Video Sharing offers a lot of what Social Photo Sharing, but some sites add in more "sharing" features in the form of subscriptions to channels, rating the video and offering code to embed the players on social networks or blogs.
Example sites:  YouTube, Jumpcut, Joost, Grouper, Revver, Blip.TV, VideoEgg, Daily Motion

Social Media Sites - Bookmarking:
DiigoThis part of Social Media is a great way to share what web pages you feel are important enough to bookmark.  Reining champ in this arena is de.licio.us, which is owned by Yahoo!  Along with saving your bookmarks, in almost all of these services, you can add tags and sometimes comments, as well as descriptions to your entries.  Titles for the links are also editable, you can choose to name it something different than what the actually page title is.  A lot of these services have become keen to the idea of promoting what's popular, so most of these services now have pages that display "recently bookmarked" or "most popular bookmarks" along with popular tags.  Like Social News, this space in Social Media also offers genre specific sites.
Example sites:  de.licio.us, Diigo, Furl, Bluedot, ma.gnolia.com, TekTag, Linklog, CloudyTags, Spurl

Social Media Sites - Social Networks:
Disneysocialnetwork As the success of MySpace and Facebook are spoken about in the press and in boardrooms across America, more and more corporations are considering adding their own specific networks for brands, products and companies.  Take for example Disney.com, they just launched their own social network, Toyota's got one for their Prius and Coca-Cola has one too.  Brands, products and in particularly movies are all wising up and creating their own MySpace page as well to try and reach this lucrative market of engaged community members.
Example Sites:  MySpace, Facebook, Live Journal, TagWorld, Disney XD, Toyota Prius, MSN Groups, Yahoo 360

Social Media Sites - Answer Services:
Yahooanswers This a really small, but powerful niche of Social Media.  I found out just what a great source of traffic it was last month when someone on Yahoo! Answers pointed to Search Marketing Gurus for an answer to a question.  With Answer Services, community members strive to give the best quality answers to questions that are posed to the community.  The "king" in this arena is Yahoo! Answers, but Answers.com isn't far behind.  Established sites like Linked In are also adding their own form of Answering services as well.
Example site:  Yahoo! Answers, Answers.com, Linked In Answers, Questionville, Askville,

Social Media Sites - Forums & Message Boards:
Probably the granddaddy of all Social Media, but the most forgotten are forums and message/bulletin boards.  These social gathering places have been around probably even longer than the idea of "search" itself.  With forums for genres, specialties, genders, marital status, pet owners, hobbies and everything else under the sun, they offer a place for communities to form, members to contribute and information to be shared.  There are literally thousands of these types of services out there, just type in the subject you want to research and attached the word "forum" or "message board" to the end and you'll see what I mean.
Example Sites:  Cre8asite Forums, Television Without Pity, Rotten Tomatoes, Search Engine Watch, High Rankings, Collector's Society, StarTrek Message Boards, Epicurious, The Greyhound Message Board

Social Media Sites - Those Social Media Services That Don't Fit a "Category" -- YET!:
Linkedin Finally we have those sites that just don't fit into any of these categories.  For one reason or another, they are of their own enitity.  Perhaps, they are filling a need that no one else is filling, or maybe they straddle the fence between categories, but no matter their uncategorized status, they are still very much a part of the Social Media category. These are all sites that fill a category all their own, but what should they be named?
Example sites:  StumbleUpon (social discovery?), MyBlogLog (social blog networking?), LinkedIn (social professional networking?), Wikipedia (social encylopedia?),

Measuring Social Media:
Buzzlogic Lastly, how do you measure social media?  Well there's not one tool, beyond perhaps tweaking your own analytics software to include a certain set of sites that refer traffic, that can take into account everything that might be considered a Social Media site.  There are some tools that come close, but a lot of analysts are piecing together the in-house right now than utilizing these services since they are all still in their infancy.
Example Social Media Measuring Services:  Buzzlogic, BlogPulse, Technorati, Feedburner

I hope this list helps you out in understanding Social Media a bit better and maybe even give you some ideas of what channels you can utilize for your clients or even yourself.  If I find any any glaring omissions, I'll update this post with the new information I find.

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Comments

I wouldn't categorize Joost under 'video sharing'.
They don't 'share' (nor accept)any user-generated content like youTube.
It's really not even a 'social networking' place (they don't maintain a comunity: it's just streaming syndicated video).

As for video sharing site, you can also mention the video aggregators ("best of"), like glumbert.com.

Also, there are sites like twitter.com (which I absolutely hate = see my comments at http://lagesse.org/index.php/2007/03/06/i-just-realized-i-never-really-posted-about-twittercom/ =, but hey, it IS 'social')!

What about

http://www.meetup.com

and

http://www.rrove.com

How would you categorize these?

Chad ... are you reading my mind? :)

I was just thinking last night sites like these two, could technically fall into a social media category. For now, I'd say "other"... but maybe something "Social Media: Meet-Up Sites"? What do you think?

I had to stumbled this. Wonderful post. I'll be writing my own guide to social media sites. Drop by and check it out?

This is a useful article, but needs updating.

I understand 'web2.0' / 'social media' sites as those that give some control to users. At one extreme you have sites where 100% of the content is user supplied and moderated. Anyone can join and post any type of content, including video, images, text, links, etc. At the other extreme there are sites where user involvement is limited to a controlled form of interaction, such as posting a review or rating an item. You may be able share these views with your friends and other users; but have no control yourself over the actual content, or even where / if it appears on the site.

Ultimately social media sites are about 'communities'. How you build, operate and manage the community and for what purpose defines the nature of the site.

For this reason I see little value in applying a content or functional catalogue of these sites as you have done. How is a video sharing site different from one the shares music or pictures? How is a site that tags or rates a video, picture or performance different from one that tags or rates a news item, a product, or a celebrity?

Every industry sector, interest group, place, company, brand, ... has their own 'community' (I have my own 'social network', as do you). Everyone who associates with this entity is already part of this interaction, although the majority of these exchanges are carried out in 'private'. All a 'social media' site is doing is allowing this interaction to take place online and in public.

Just wanted to say thank you. I found your article very helpful and informative.

We have a social and business network of busy single business people and professionals who like to meet up in Northants. We organise local events, sports, leisure, holidays, weekend breaks, balls and one to one contacts.

Since having our new website, I am increasing interested in SEO and social networking sites. It is an all consuming, facinating subject.

Keep up the good work!


Kind regards

Loretta Agates MD
The Together Network
www.thetogethernetwork.co.uk
01604 879246

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