Who do you conjure up in your mind when you consider the best social media networking sites? To help you answer that question , I’ve reviewed the top twenty most engaging social media sites that people find interesting because the sites are so unique.
Since human beings are social creatures by nature, we embrace social media because it gives us an opportunity to satisfy this natural tendency, feel we belong, share and express ideas. With the ongoing growth of the Internet, more sites are spawned every day. Once launched, the creators hope that they’ll capture our attention, increase the sites users base and become a household name. As you go through this list, you’ll note that many of these social forums are reflections of today’s global engagement of social networking at its best.
Of all of the social networks, Facebook is known to almost every internet user on the planet. This social network connects and shares content with over one billion users worldwide. From “friending’ contacts to sharing pictures, communication, life stories and everything in between, Facebook needs little explanation of its many attributes. You can expand your presence on Facebook by setting up a Facebook Page where you can promote your business or become part of a community that have common interests. “Likes” on pages have become a hot commodity these days and savvy business organizations are setting up these promotional pages in the hope of cashing in on the Facebook craze. Even with some of the privacy and formatting setbacks the Facebook team have experienced, this organization is still “on top” of the world.
How can you not love this bird?
Although Twitter is a social network, it is dramatically different than Facebook. It is a micro-messaging system, which allows you to compose short Tweets of 140 characters or less. You can follow, or be followed, people that you have interest in by interchanging messages through your news feed. A unique characteristic of Twitter is the use of what’s called hashtags. By using a hashtag symbol (e.g. #Twitter) you are part of an ongoing dialogue where other Twitter members using the same hashtag are more likely to see your Tweets. Twitter’s popularity has increased steadily in the social engagement scene, and if you have a Facebook account, chances are you’re part of Twitter generation too.
Even though YouTube is not technically considered a social media platform, it has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds and its growth stats are pretty impressive. YouTube is a video-sharing website where you can view, share, upload, comment on, like or dislike videos. Most of the material is uploaded to YouTube by individuals, however, because of its dramatic viewing growth, companies are taking to the airwaves in droves. Similar to Facebook, you can voice your opinion by a “like” or “dislike” of a video. Many a new-comer like Justin Beiber found fame and fortune by launching a YouTube video. If you obtain a Google+ account, you automatically become a member of the YouTube subscribers..
LinkedIn is a social network designed for “professionals” who want to connect with like-minded people in the business community. As part your LinkedIn profile, your career, jobs, education and other skills are listed. It is a breeding ground for professionals to be seen as potential candidates in the job market. Over the past couple of years LinkedIn has gained significant footing in the commercial sector for head-hunters to find the ideal candidates. The traditional Resume via mail have been replaced for many with a link being sent with the job application via their LinkedIn profile. The basic LinkedIn profile is limited in function. If you want more advanced options and expanded visability there is a monthly user fee.
Launched in June 28, 2011, Google+ is one of the newest social sites and its closest competitor is Facebook. Like Facebook, you can have a profile, load up pictures and stay in touch with your friends while discovering new interesting people. You can add links to your websites, Twitter account or any number of other connections you may have on the Internet. This is a big plus for many who may have blogs, or Facebook Pages. Moreover, you can communicate with one of your friends, groups of people, or you can speak to the global community. Also similar to Facebook, you can set up your privacy settings to determine who sees your status updates or comments. Unlike Facebook, you have the option of reading status updates of others even if they are not one of your friends.
Instagram is a relative newcomer to social networks. It was launched in October 2010. Because of its popularity and versatility as a smartphone application, it allows you to take photos and apply various digital filters to a photo. You can then share them with other Instagram users or other social networks. Instagram is noted for its square shape for all of the photos. In 2012, Facebook finished a deal to acquire Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.
Pinterest is a one of the more interesting social networks because you have a virtual pinboard where you can create, manage and share image collections that are related to a particular topic. Once you have signed up for an account, you can browse numerous pinboards, “like” their photos and “re-pin” the image to your own pinboard. Many Facebook users and socially minded companies now have a Pinterest App on their sites where the art of engagement has reached a new level. Women in particular take to Pinterest because the female gender tends to be more visually focused. Smart CEO’s know this fact and cater to women’s visual appeal because “the ladies of the house” tend to have greater purchasing power than their male counterparts.
The claim to fame for this social site is that it helps you to find, review and even comment on your experience at great local businesses like restaurants, spas, hair saloons or shops. Every business can establish their own account to share photos and messages with other users. Because the majority of Yelp reviews come from businesses purchasing advertising, Yelp has received some criticism that the impartiality of the reviews are questionable. However, Yelp has clearly stated that no one, including paying advertisers, can change or tamper with existing user reviews. How do you know the difference?
Have you ever wondered what the sound of your voice would be like on an audio track? SoundCloud is an online sound sharing service that allows you to record, upload and share music or other audio recordings. It’s not a social site per se, but users can share music or audio recordings with other users and this allows you to stay in touch with people that are interested in the same music as you. You can also comment on the songs or recordings of others.
If you’re into photo sharing then Flickr is for you. It’s an online photo-sharing and image/video hosting service that allows you to share photos and videos with your friends. You can then organize, and give permissions for others to organize the photos in an original style. In addition, you incorporate notes below the picture as well as tag photos. You can comment on other photos by creating a community with the people that are sharing your photos.
If you want an easy, fast and fun way to meet new people then Badoo is the social site to visit. Since its launch in 2006 it has become of the largest social networks for being primarily a dating-focused online service. Users can chat with each other, set up dates and rate others pictures. Badoo has some 160 million users. You must be 18 years of age and older.
Flixster is an online service that combines social networking and reviews of movies. As a Flixster user you can discover new movies and get in touch with people who are interested in the same movie genres as you. You can integrate Flixster to your Facebook profile so that you can share movies with your Facebook friends, discover movies that your friends are watching and add movie reviews to your Timeline. In 2008 Flixster introduced a new iPhone application that allows you to access movie reviews, trailers and show-times.
The name says it all. This social media site dates back to 1995, making it one the oldest social networks around. As you might guess, this service helps users to find and reconnect with classmates from kindergarten through University. Classmates is a global service where people can connect with their academic counterparts from countries such as United States, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and France.
Launched in 2003, Myspace was the most visited social networking site and even surpassed Google in the US in 2006. However, it lost its lustre and was overtaken by Facebook, and its user rate has constantly declined. Despite this crash and burn, Myspace was a trendsetter for many of today’s social networking services. It also set the platform for many gaming sites, such as Zynga. A feature of Myspace is its own Instant Messenger, which is an independent program for Windows as well as a web-based client.
DeviantART is a social network that was launched in 2000 and caters to artists and art enthusiasts. It is unique because it is the most widely used social networking service of its kind. The site aims to connect, entertain and inspire artists. Artists may showcase their work and communicate with other users, as noted by its chat capability features. Artists can organize their work into various categories such as digital art, traditional art, photography, and users can download stock photos and tutorials.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking site for mobile devices. Created in 2009, users can check-in at venues for locations nearby. The locations are based on GPS hardware in the mobile device network provided by the application. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”. You can write a comment along with your “check in,” so you can review a good restaurant, post a photo and share your check- in on your Facebook profile.
This Chinese social network was created by Tencent in 2005. Users are able to write blogs, keep virtual diaries, send photos to friends or listen to music. You can design your own Qzone background and select accessories according to your own taste. Because Qzone services are for a fee, you are limited in your options, and the site is only available in Chinese.
Habbo is a Finnish-based social network that was created in 2000 and targeted at teenagers. It features a “Hotel” that can be accessed by registered users. Once you log in, you are redirected to a screen called ‘Hotel View’ where you can contact other Habbo users using the “Habbo Chat.” Other features include user pages, discussion forums and various games. Although Finnish-based, this social network is available in many languages.
Launched in 2003, this social networking site has many features that are similar to other social sites. You can create a profile, share interests, join friend networks, share photos, create user groups, post status updates, listen to music and post comments. In 2009, hi5 added several new features aimed for the gaming and entertainment community. Though this is a US based social media site, it has gained more popularity in foreign countries, such as Latin America.
Similar to YouTube, Vimeo is a video-sharing service, where you can view, upload and share videos. One of their claims to fame was the fact that this site was the first video-sharing website that supported consumer HD videos. Users can send messages, comment on their videos, share them on other social networks. You can even create your own channel or group; however, this site is only available in English and Spanish.
So there you have it, the top twenty social networks that engage us, entertain us and expand our horizons for connecting with others on a global basis. I’m certain that there will continue to be new kids on the block. Only time will tell if we embrace them as being an important part of our everyday lives or cast them aside in favour of finding the next hot IP address.