It’s no secret that social networking websites are becoming more prolific and independently sophisticated in their abilities to reach the masses, and for the masses to share information. With so many social media networking websites to sift through, all with separate media foundations, how can we choose? Well here’s a short review of a few mainstream social networking websites and their central media targets.
When it comes to blogging websites, there are quite literally millions to choose from. According to Wikipedia, blogging is defined as, “a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.”1
WordPress is at the forefront of websites that will help you set up your individual blog. It is similar to LiveJournal and Tumblr, but far more user friendly and professional. Not only does WordPress allow free hosting of your blog with your own personalized domain name, they also provide themes, tutorials, spam protection, and different widgets to make your blog space unique. Conversely, WordPress has a paid service which releases their entire library of customization options.
WordPress’s contribution to the blogging world continues with their free software download. If you have purchased a domain name and hosting, WordPress offers their software as a free download to use as your platform for blogging. I run my own personal blog on WordPress. When I was looking for a good program, this was the only one suggested to me by multiple people, and even though I tried others, I ended up taking the advice of the majority rule and went with WordPress.
A testament to the popularity of WordPress is the long list of celebrities, major news outlets, and governments that have embraced its user friendly (and free) operating system. The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Larry King, and England’s Prime Minister’s Office are just examples of how mainstream WordPress has become.2
Do you know what scrobbling is? Not many people do. I didn’t know until about a year ago. Scrobbling, or to scrobble, refers to music. According to Netlingo, scrobbling is when you sign up for a service that takes the music you listen to on your iPod or computer, and sends the information to a profile on the web.3 Sounds confusing enough? This is how Last.fm works.
Say you use iTunes and listen to your music both on your iPod and your computer. When you sign up with Last.fm, download their desktop software; it runs in the background, where you cannot see it, and only relays music information. As you listen to music, the names of tracks, artist, and album are being sent to your Last.fm profile. After the data is collected and categorized, you will start to see graphs based on your specific style of music. After a little while longer, the program can start suggesting music for you. This is basically scrobbling, the collection of your music tastes in order to advise you of music you may not have heard about.
There are only a handful of websites that offer this form of service, not to mention the fact that iTunes has a built in scrobbler called Genius which doesn’t require any extra work. What is great about Last.fm is how completely connected the website is to all things music. Concerts, venues, festivals, band biographies, track and album names, album art, and music videos are entirely at your fingertips. Think of it as a Wikipedia of music, Last.fm spends copious amounts of time assuring all their information is correct and up to date, which includes legitimate links for upcoming concerts.
Last.fm offers the option to listen to tracks before you decide to buy them, which I prefer over a 30 second preview from the iTunes store. Although limited to how many times you may listen to a song, you can always subscribe for $3.00 a month and receive some nice bonuses, including all the music you could ever listen to.
deviantART is hands down the best source for any form of visual artistic expression. If you’re an artist, start showing your work here. If you’re looking for art, you’ll glean much better results on deviantART than you would on a basic internet image search.
deviantART gives artists the ability to showcase their works, whether is be watercolour, oils, pen, pencil, digital, or even photography. They also provide an option to contact the artist if you would like to commission them for a project, and in some cases you can simply buy a piece straight from the website. Explained in one sentence by CEO Angelo Sotira, “It is our intention to create the most powerful outlet in the world for known and unknown artists alike.”4
I find deviantART to be a real source of inspiration, and I’ve known others who feel the same. If you’re searching for abstract angles for your wedding photos or some inspiration for a tattoo, start your search here for some of the most talented artists you’ve never heard of.
Do you tweet? It seems as if Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with celebrities and news outlets alike, for its condensed style and simple foundation. Twitter is microblogging. Whatis defines microblogging as, “a web service that allows the subscriber to broadcast short messages to other subscribers of the service.”5 Twitter has become the powerhouse of all microblogging websites.
The idea is very simple. Each user has a very simplified profile, with minimal personal information, and a 140 character limit on their posts. You can post as often as you’d like, about anything that catches your fancy really. For example, “My son won his football game today”, or you can ask a question of your fellow Twitter users “Can anyone direct me to a recipe for really good diabetic cookies?”
Building a community within Twitter can be a bit tricky, but if you are dedicated to finding a group of people with your same interests, you would be hard pressed to do it any more efficiently anywhere else. On Twitter, you can follow anyone’s posts, or tweets, unless they have locked their account, and anyone can follow your tweets. If you are looking for something specific, start with the search option, and read some recent tweets. Over time, and with some trial and error, it’s easy to build your own community, specific to your needs. You can follow your favorite artists or celebrities like John Mayer or Kevin Smith, or you can choose to get instant news updates from the White House.
It is also extremely easy to share on Twitter. Since there is limited space as to how many characters you can type, anything shared is in link form. Twitter has its own photo hosting site, called Twitpic, directly connected to the website, so posting photos is very simple. Otherwise you can share links for your blog, videos, other websites, and so on. The service is free, and depending on the type of cell phone you have, you can also download an application to use Twitter on your phone from anywhere.
Behemoth that it is, Facebook boasts over a staggering 200 million active users, with half of their numbers making their way to their profiles at least once a day.6 What cannot be accomplished on Facebook?
Some may think that Facebook is along the same lines as MySpace, that it’s a time waster of teenagers and college students all over the world. A lot can be said of Facebook’s fastest growing demographic; you guessed it, 35’s and older.7
It’s true, Facebook doesn’t offer the amount of customization as MySpace, but as I user of both at one point, I can safely, there’s nothing wrong with that. Facebook streamlined all of their users into one profile layout, and it works. You have your profile photo, and your personal information, and from there on out you can add what ever you like. MySpace allows too much personalization in a community with very few web designers; which means you get pages that are not easy to navigate, buttons that may be different, and not one thing is consistent from profile to profile. Since the basics of Facebook are all consistent, it means the website can easily be updated and evolve with the needs to the many, with very little negative impact or confusion.
Facebook provides the same goods and services, so to speak, as MySpace does, such as common interest groups, games, event calendars, fan pages, musician pages, etc., only it’s much more modest and user friendly.
One of the best features of Facebook, and the reason I have listed it last, is that it is compatible with almost any other social networking site in terms of connection. For instance, I can turn on my Twitter application on Facebook, and Twitter will automatically update my Facebook status with what ever I decide to tweet. If you enjoy sharing those hilarious videos you find on YouTube, you can just click the “Share on Facebook” button, and it will post directly on your profile.
When it comes to social networking, you want to make sure you don’t just focus on one website. If several can be managed at one time, the connections that can be made are limitless, and it is a wonderful tool for marketing. One of the most productive aspects of all five of these websites is their interconnectedness. Personally, I have managed to link Facebook, Last.fm, Twitter, and my photo hosting site all to one central place, my blog. Everything automatically updates without me having to lift a finger, which gives the illusion of activity when I haven’t had a free day to blog. It is also helpful to friends and family, who may only have the time and patience to manage one profile on one social network, to keep up with my schedule, what I’m currently carrying out, and to see my photos.
Social networking sites will continue to expand their potential, and will evolve with the needs of the masses to stay personally connected no matter where they are in the world.
Blog-Wikipedia, the free encylopedia
Scrobble-NetLingo The Internet Dictionary
4 Angelo Sotira
deviantART: About deviantART’s Team Core
What Is Microblogging?