Monday, June 25, 2012

Social Media Lowdown

Lets face it, social media is everywhere. Its becoming more and more a necessary part of every one's life. Professionals, students, and stay home parents alike all turn to it to keep up with friends and colleagues. Odds are good your Grandma uses it. The same Grandma that needs help turning on her own cell phone can get on Facebook and post embarrassing stories about your childhood or inappropriate comments on your pictures. I speak from experience.

Thing is, there are so many options out there that it can get a bit daunting. So I decided to come up with a list of the ones you hear about the most and do a comparison on each of them. Pit them against each other in a match to the death so to speak. Talk about an intimidating feat. So, in the end, I had my list but I couldn't choose which were best for everyone. Seriously, every one has different needs. So, here you have the lowdown on the most heavily used social media sites and what they are about. Some you may not have heard of personally, but I guarantee you someone you know has.

Professional Networking:

Facebook- If you are here and don't know what Facebook is, you might should turn off your computer. Facebook is the kind of all powerful social media powerhouse for the time being. The place to connect with friends and collegues from all walks of life and a PR haven for business and bloggers alike to share information about pretty much anything and everything. Facebook does get flack for changing things around without any input from users but it is still the number one social network in the world.

Twitter- Is a micro blogging network. You 140 characters or less to get your point across. The short format of the tweet is a defining characteristic, allowing informal collaboration and quick information sharing. The Twitter atmosphere tends to be a lot more candid and entertainment based than the more personal feel of some social networks. 

Google+ - The newbie of the social networking sites, this one is also run by Google. The identification by some as Google's attempt to topple the Facebook empire is not entirely accurate.While it will be used as the general public as a basic social network tool to keep up with friends, it also has some powerful business networking applications as well. Much like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn- The biggest business and professional networking site reporting more than 120 million registered users, spanning more than 196 countries. Chances are, if you have worked with someone, they have a LinkedIn profile. This is a perfect way to keep track of references and maintain your resume with updated information. Its a great way to make new professional connections as well, whether its looking for a new job or the right person to complete a project for you.

Ecademy-  A membership organisation for entrepreneurs and business owners who want belong to a community that connects, supports and transacts with one another.  Ecademy prides itself on "connecting business people" through its online network, blog and message-board chats. A more personal approach to business networking. This one has gotten a lot of flack in the past for their staff being.. less than approachable.

Reddit/ Digg/ Stumble Upon- Places to upload stories and articles to drive more traffic to your site or blog. The trick is to upload often to keep your page fresh and at the top of peoples list. Can be pretty time consuming but usually worth it in the long run.

YouTube- Kind of like Facebook in if you haven't heard of it, you might shouldn't be reading this. YouTube, owned and operated by Google, is the place online to host your videos. If you are posting the video online, you need it posted on YouTube. Great for personal "vlogging" or more in depth behind-the-scenes video or even just pictures of your kids being cute, YouTube is the place to get it noticed.

SoundCloud- An online audio distribution platform which allows collaboration, promotion and distribution of audio recordings by anyone with a computer. This is a great resource for bands to share and collaborate as well as a platform for musicians to distribute their music, by allowing recording artists to react more nimbly with their fans. It has quickly replaced MySpace as the place to have a band page. Something that sorely needed doing.

Personal Networking:

Path- The first cell phone only based social network created by Dave Morin (previously of Facebook) aims to create a more intimate connection among its users. Path limits each user's social network to 50 "friends" in order to encourage users to select only high-quality connections. Sharing is simplified and easy to control with no messy settings to configure.

Foursquare/ Gowalla/ Location Based Apps-  Location based (geotagging) mobile social networks that allow you to share your location with people of your choice including publishing to your social networks. The safety of these type of networks, allowing people to see when you are away or where you are, has been questioned by some and rightly so but like with all public information, just be careful what you share.

Cafemom -  This is a place for moms to connect. They can find information regarding all walks of life with kids from pregnancy to adulthood. One of the key draws about this site is the groups which provide a tight network of like minded moms depending on topics they choose. A site that allows you to search for your old classmates and connect with them through various outlets. This was huge awhile backbut the only problem is, not everyone got around to creating any type of profile before Facebook took over.

Flickr- A photo networking site which allows you to connect with others based on type or style. Also a place for amateur photographers to be discovered and sell a few pieces.

Meetup.Com- Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. It makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.


LiveJournal- This one is a community based blogging platform. Two users can have no relationship, they can list each other as friends mutually, or either can "friend" the other without reciprocation. Think a mix between Facebook and blogging (Nerd Factoid: they were the originators of the word "friend" being used as a verb). This was one of the original outlets for people looking to start a blog.

Tumblr-Combines the microblogging platform and social networking much like any other. Known more for a quick, short posting style, it moves more like Twitter in a longer format. You have the option to "like" or "reblog" posts within the Tumblr network which is something not offered by most blogging platforms.

Wordpress- A free, open source blogging tool based on PHP and MySQL, this is the only major blogging platform that utilizes the content management system (CMS) . It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. Wordpress has a free and a paid option. The paid option has a growing reputation for being a money pit. Everything will cost you. In general you get what you pay for.

Blogger- Started by Pyra Labs in 1999, this is one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing tools, it is credited for helping popularize the format. Blogger was then bought out by Google in 2003 and became a powerhouse for blogging. Exceedingly simple, Blogger's flexibility and low cost (mostly free) still draws a huge majority of new bloggers annually. 

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