It’s easier to navigate the maze of online social media sites if you understand the different site categories and the purpose of each type. The social media world consists of two segments: social and media. To optimize your experience with each type of social media, it’s best to participate in the communities you choose to join.
Today’s post supplies a list of 23 types of social media, including a brief explanation of the purpose and at least one example of each type. This list will help you determine which types of social media sites would best benefit your situation. Nearly all social media sites offer free memberships.
- Blogs — Yes, your blog is a type of social media. The most popular free blogging platforms are WordPress.com, TypePad, and Blogger. I highly recommend a self-hosted site with WordPress.org installed.
- Social Networking Sites — Focuses on building relationships among people with similar interests and activities. Examples: Facebook, MySpace, Friendster
- Social News — Users submit and vote on news stories. Examples: Digg, PopURLs
- Social Measuring — Measure the quality of submitted content. Examples: Technorati, BlogPulse
- Microblogging — Differs from traditional blogging because the content is delivered in short bursts of information. Example: Twitter
- Social Bookmarking — Allows users to share, organize, search bookmarks of web resources. Examples: Del.ici.ous, Diigo (formerly Furl)
- Social Q&A — Users can submit or answer questions. Examples: Answers.com, Yahoo! Answers
- Video Sharing — Users can upload and comment on videos. Examples: YouTube, Vimeo
- Photo Sharing — Users can upload and comment on photos. Some photo-sharing sites offer a user license agreement that allows bloggers and website owners to use images. Examples: Flickr, PhotoBucket
- Social Search — Some search engines have evolved beyond providing search results into to a social media communities where users can create profiles and interact through email groups. Examples: Google, Yahoo!
- Professional Networks — This type of social media site is a virtual Rolodex, enabling business professionals to recommend one another, share information about industry-related events, post resumes, and other features. Examples: LinkedIn, Plaxo
- Niche Communities — Niche networking has grown beyond the message boards of old into full-fledged communities. There is no “leader of the pack” in this category, but here is a list of social media niche sites maintained by Traffikd.
- Social Email — Newly released Google Buzz has transformed Gmail into a stream of consciousness for email contacts. Always the educator, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has been conducting a great series with his Buzz followers as we all learn this thing together. If you’re new to Google Buzz or interested in giving it a go, I suggest you follow Darren.
- Comment Communities — Even blog comments have hopped aboard the social media bandwagon through sites such as Disqus. (Note: My friend Rajeev Edmonds recently wrote an informative guest post about customizing Disqus comments.)
- Regional Social Media Sites — This type of social media site is growing in popularity as the world wide web seeks to become more personal. Contributing to news sites, such as Examiner.com, are a great way to position yourself as an authority within both your community and your niche and make a few extra dollars at the same time.
- Podcasting Communities — Podcasting communities are social networks that help connect podcasters, advertisers, and listeners. Example: Blubrry.com
- Blog Networks — Similar to niche communities, blog networks are usually a large collection of blogs. Sometimes they cover a broad arena of topics, others are small and more tightly focused. Although anyone can read the blog posts (sometimes registration is required), many blog networks provide exclusive content and require approval for bloggers to join, which gives those who are accepted a certain level of prestige. Examples: Gawker, b5Media, 9Rules
- Blogging Communities — Broader than niche communities and not exclusive like blog networks, blogging communities encourage bloggers to share and interact with one another as well as create regular blog posts. Examples: BlogHer, LiveJournal
- Presentation-sharing Sites — Sharing presentations online is becoming a very popular way to set yourself apart from the crowd in your field. There is also a lot of good content available on presentation sites that bloggers can link to and share with their readers. Examples: SlideShare
- Content-driven Communities — Also known as “Wikis.” This type of social media is popping up everywhere. The largest and most well known, of course, is Wikipedia.
- Product-based Communities — Many sites that started as a means of buying and selling products online have incorporated the community aspect into their sites. The biggest sites in this type of social media are Ebay and Amazon.com.
- Review & Recommendation Sites — You can review almost anything in an online community-based setting now. Twitter asks “What are you doing?”, but Shelfari (and other book review communities) asks “What are you reading?” Travel recommendation communities are extremely popular. Examples: TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Where I’ve Been
- Social Media Sites that Defy Definition — There are several social media sites that march to the beat of their own drum. Squidoo comes to mind. (No, I haven’t forgotten I’m supposed to create a lens and write about my experience there, but seriously, life has gotten in the way of many of my projects lately. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you know.) At first glance, StumbleUpon seems to be a social bookmarking site, but the site is marketed as a “Channel Surfing” site. Do you know of other unique social media sites that don’t “fit in” to the above categories?
- What other types of social media sites are you aware of? List them in the comments. Also, please share which types you prefer and how you use them.
Until next time,