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:
Social 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:
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:
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:
This 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:
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:
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!:
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:
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.