Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “social media”? If it’s Twitter or Facebook then you’re actually thinking of “social networking sites” and there are many more social media and networking technologies available to market yourself and your business or simply connect with others who share your interests in life.
There’s actually 7, and today we’ll go through them all, figure out what they’re best used for and list some examples of each type.
The 7 Types Of Social Media And Networking Technologies
1. Social Networking
These are the most common type of social media, the ones everybody knows about. They’re perfect if you’re interested in connecting with friends. They’re also great if you want to get your word out to as many different people as possible.
- Facebook: Considered the most popular social network, with Facebook you can make connections and keep in touch with friends and family, follow the pages of your favorite businesses, or join groups full of people with similar interests.
- Twitter: With each post having a 140 character limit you need to make sure every word counts. Hashtags are king and people can follow you without having to follow them back (although if your goal is to make connections, then it’s always a good idea to follow back).
- Google+: This one’s Google’s response to Facebook and is still trying to get a good foothold in the social networking world. The circles system (in which you can put friends in various circles for categorization) is a great system and can be used to great effect if you have things you’d like to share with different groups of friends.
2. Professional Networking
This is similar to social networking but with a different focus. Instead of being about connecting with friends, professional networking sites allow you to connect, meet and get introduced to other professionals.
- LinkedIn: The most popular professional social network available, LinkedIn lets you create a profile (as most do) focusing on your skills and work experience. Once you’re done you can join groups about anything from freelance writing to software engineering. You can also find jobs or get introduced to other professionals through common connections. You cannot friend anyone you want… most will need at least one common connection or knowing the person’s email address.
- FounderDating: Are you an entrepreneur? FounderDating lets you connect with other entrepreneurs or investors to team up on projects. Joining FounderDating requires that you are screened by their team (with a 34% acceptance rate) but once you’re on you know you’re in good company, surrounded by entrepreneurs, cofounders and advisors to help you get your business off the ground (or join a budding one).
3. Media Sharing
Forget text posts and replace them with multimedia. Whether you’re a photographer, a music artist or a short film director, this is the kind of social networking technology you can’t live without.
- YouTube: Record videos, post them on YouTube. Everybody knows about this website but not many consider it a social network. Popular YouTubers know the value of networking with each other though and everyone of them spends hours perfecting their cuts, polishing their descriptions, and figuring out what videos will convert the most viewers.
- Flickr: If you’re a photographer, Flickr is the place to be. It’s Yahoo’s social network highlighting the art of the photograph, and on it you can both make great photographer friends or find clients who love your work.
- SoundCloud: Music producer or music lover? Either way you’ve got to check out SoundCloud. Here you can upload your tracks, follow other artists, leave comments on tracks, and join groups of artists in the same genre for music-related (and other, miscellaneous) discussion.
4. Hobby Networking
The internet is an amazing thing. No matter how underground your hobby is, you’re likely to find others interested in the same thing. And with the rise of social networks, you’ll most likely find one specifically for your hobby where you can connect with and meet like-minded people, discuss the intricacies of what you do and learn from those who can do it better.
Because of the vast number of hobbies available, your best bet is to just search “your hobby” + “social network” or “your hobby” + “forum” to find something that interests you. Here’s a short list of various forums and social networks for the most common hobbies:
- GoodReads (reading)
- Fav.tv (TV shows)
- Movie Forums (movies)
- Fishidy (fishing)
- Gamurs (gaming)
- Oh My Bloom (gardening)
- Fitocracy (fitness)
5. Student Networking
Student (or educational) networks are all about collaborating and interact with other students, teachers and professors. Student who are struggling with their work or interested in learning more about the subjects they’re studying would do well to head over to a student network and connect with other individuals at their grade level or attending the same school.
Student networks are niche-specific, so google around. Here are some popular ones.
- The Math Forum: It might not be a looker, but if you’re interested in learning more about Math, this one’s for you. It’s got lessons categorized by grade level, special interest topics, an “ask a professor” section and it’s got a huge database of problems and puzzles.
- The Student Room: The Student Room has over 1.8 million registered users, discussing anything from universities, to classes, to health and relationships. It’s also got software to help you out with university applications and revision tools. Unfortunately for US readers, this one’s UK-based.
This might not be the most obvious sort of social media, but blogging is in itself a sort of social network. If you’ve got an affinity for writing, then having a blog might just be the thing for you. If your blog is successful, your readers (who are by default interested in the same things you’re interested in and writing about) will leave comments with which you can easily connect. Finding other bloggers in your niche can kickstart great friendships. And if your friends enjoy reading your work, you can easily keep them updated.
If you’re still not sure about what blogging platform to go for, here are some websites that cater to different things.
- WordPress: Arguably the most common blogging tool, you can either get a free blog account with their servers hosting your blog, or you can download the CMS (also free) and host it on your own hosting account (costing less than $100 a year with a custom .com domain). The internet is chock full of cheap themes and free plugins to turn your blog into the perfect social networking tool.
- Tumblr: Tumblr has 252 million blogs registered so you’re in good company. It’s a little photo- and gif-heavy but if you’re a fan of anything you’ll be hardpressed to not find blogs to follow and people to reblog your posts. It’s a vast, vibrant community and it’s got something for everyone (which can also be a con if you’re interested in niche communities).
- Medium: Created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and Biz Stone, Medium lets you create a free blog, immediately pushing you into a community of bloggers. The interface is clean and professional and one of the best parts is you can leave inline comments as you read. You can also follow blogs to create a personalized news feed from your favorite bloggers.
7. Academic Networking
Last but not least, we come to academic social media and networking technologies. This one’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in academic research and sharing of research and review results, then you’ll find a place here.
- Academia.edu: Academia.edu calls itself “a platform for academics to share research papers [and] accelerate the world’s research.” With over 24 million registered users this social network contains over 6 million papers for you to read, share, and comment on. It’s also got a job board for research grants and PhD positions.
- Mendeley: With Mendeley you can collaborate with other scholars, upload and share your research papers, follow updates and track progress of your favorite groups, leave comments, and be a part of the discussion. You can also download their open-source database of papers and research to your own computer.
Did I miss a type? Did you just find out about your perfect social network through this list? Let me know in the comments!