What is Social Media?
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There are numerous social media networks and while we've covered to extensively, Facebook and Twitter, there are others which are quickly gaining in popularity. To complete the list of the top five social media networks we'll include LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a business-orientated social networking service. One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of relationship, called connections. You can invite anyone to become a connection (whether they are a site user or not), however unlike most social media networks, if the invitee selects "I don't know" or "Spam", this counts against the inviter. If the inviter gets too many of these types of responses the account may be restricted or closed all together.
This seemingly "gated-access approach" is intended to build trust among LinkedIn users with professionals being required to have either an existing relationship or the intervention of a mutual contact.
Some of LinkedIn's features:
• Can be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities
• Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates
• Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers
• Users can post their own photos and those of others, aiding identification
• Users can "like" and/or "congratulate" each other's updates and new employments
• Users can endorse their connections skills allowing users to efficiently provide commentary on other users’ profiles
Of the more popular social media networks, LinkedIn are the oldest an indication that it has now become well established.
The first prototype of Pinterest was launched in 2010 and made available to a small group of colleagues and family members. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. People create and share collections, called "boards", of visual bookmarks, called "pins". These boards and pins would then be used to do things like plan trips or projects, organise events or to save articles and recipes.
Pinterest acts as a personalised media platform, whereby users' content and the content from others can be browsed on the main page. Users then save or "pin" these to their own boards using the "Pin It" button. These Pinboards are typically organized around a central topic or theme. Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the "Pin It" button which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser, or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website.
Once pinned, clicking on an image will take the viewer through to the original website. It is estimated that Pinterest regularly drives more referral traffic to websites than LinkedIn, YouTube or Google+.
The newest and fastest growing of the social media networks, Google+ is now the second largest social media network in the world today. Much of Google+'s growth can be linked to the easy of adoption with the only requirement to entry was an existing Google account. Google+ profiles are used as the background account for many Google Services which include YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Local and many more.
Google search is currently customised with a feature called "Search Plus Your World", which inserts content shared on Google+ profiles and brand pages under web search results - if one is logged into their Google+ account while using it. This feature is a further development from "Social Search", however unlike the original "Social Search" this does not rely on third-party non-Google websites for its social signals.
Much like LinkedIn connections, Google+ have Circles which enable users to organise people into groups or lists for sharing across the various Google products and services. Once created, Google+ users can share specific content, intended for only that circle. In this manner, you can share work related content with those in your work circle or family related content with your family circle. This makes managing your content and access to the content much easier than on other social media networks.
Much like the Facebook "like" button, Google+ has a +1 button which allows people to recommend sites and parts of sites. On a more social level, when logged into your Google+ account, when searching this could have a noticeable impact on your search results with pages with many more +1's from users in your circles being given more authority.
Different social media networks offer different solutions and opportunities to the user. We at Prop Data are in the process of including both Pinterest and Google+ in our website management system. This will allow website owners to include links to their relevant accounts directly from their website ensuring that all of your social content is easily found.