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Social Media Takes Over: What Separates One Site from Another

Feb 28, 2013 02:58AM ● By Erin Frisch


Social media has taken the world by storm. Each social media platform has different strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, expectations, limitations, and potential. Existing sites are constantly evolving, while new sites are cropping up constantly. Social media provides tools that can connect you to many different audiences. Knowing what each platform can provide and how they differ from one another can give you a better understanding of which site is right for your goals and interests. For instance, businesses these days benefit greatly from a social media presence in terms of marketing and helping get their brand out there. Staying in touch with far-off family members and reconnecting with long-lost friends is another way to use social media to your benefit. Social media sites also provide a platform for quick news updates and information sharing. Here is a breakdown of some of the different types of social media and descriptions of the various sites available.

Facebook. Originally, Facebook was created as a way for college students to find and connect with each other, exchange contact information, share photos, and generally communicate. Now available to everyone over the age of 13, Facebook provides a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. This ever-evolving social media platform continues to find new ways to engage its audience, from social gaming (FarmVille), to fan pages for artists, musicians, and more, to group pages. Facebook provides ways to connect, market, and plan events, reunions, and more. Users can still share photos, tag fellow members, and post photo and video content to each other’s timelines. Added functionality provides a way to “check-in” to places where you are and search for friends who may be nearby. While there are many upsides to all the great features Facebook offers, be wary of the security settings on your profile. Increasingly, employers and college admissions officers are looking at Facebook profiles to evaluate potential employees and students.

LinkedIn. This social media tool is geared toward professionals in every field and is used primarily to connect with others in the same fields and share your skills. Users can post their resume credentials, list job skills, and even obtain endorsements of those skills from co-workers. You can also request recommendations from previous co-workers, managers, and supervisors that will be posted on your profile as references for others to see. Recruiters use LinkedIn often to find potential employees with appropriate skill sets who may be looking for new positions. The site also functions as a networking tool for alumni associations from different colleges; recent grads can connect with alumni who may be hiring for their companies and would like to help out a fellow alumnus.

Twitter. Twitter provides a real-time microblogging platform. Members share tidbits about their thoughts, and what is going on in their lives and in the world at a particular point in time in 140 characters or less. Everyone who is “following” a particular poster is able to view his or her stream-of-consciousness tweets. Users can hashtag phrases to create a trend within the Twitter-verse, and any Twitter user can select that trend to see what the world is saying about it. They can “retweet” each other’s posts for support and tag each other in posts to open a dialogue as well. Common posts include sharing of website links, short opinions about current events, and quick, wide distribution of news stories. Twitter is also used by businesses to poll their customers for their opinions and to market special deals. For artists and musicians, Twitter can be used to build a fan base. This site offers event-coordinating ability, a business marketing tool, a news reporting service, and two-way communication, all in one.

Pinterest. For those who are interested mainly in all things visual, Pinterest provides a social scrapbooking function that allows you to collect and organize your favorites photos, websites, hobbies, recipes, ideas, and more with your followers. Users browse the web and “pin” images from different websites to the variously themed boards on Pinterest. Themes range from photography to crafts and do-it-yourself projects, to home improvements and to event planning. This site is particularly useful for collecting and organizing ideas for large events such as weddings or birthday parties. Rather than bookmarking websites you find in your browser’s bookmark function and having only the name of the site to go by, Pinterest provides a platform where you can collect the websites and organize them visually to remind yourself what you were interested in on a particular site.

Don’t dismiss social media just because you haven’t tried it. The past five years have shown that this is not a fad. Social media sites are constantly evolving to provide improved user experiences and better platforms for connecting with others in multiple capacities. So pick one that sounds intriguing, and give it a try!

What’s your favorite social media site?

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