Types of Social Media

Have you ever taken a brief moment to consider what the various types of social media are? Some tend to want to oversimplify and combine disparate definitions of social media into one. I, on the other hand, think that even small differences are relevant.

So here’s my swag at listing out the various types of social media, at least in my own opinion.

Social Networking

Social Networking gets the most attention overall, and for a good reason. This is the closest to a real world relationship we will likely ever be able to build in cyberspace. There are many types of social networking, but the main one is focused on setting up a profile and having discussions based on what one posts in the “stream”. Social Networking goes pretty far back, including sites like Friendster (the original), MySpace (who finally came to their senses and started branding themselves as “social entertainment” recently), and today’s darling, Facebook.

Blogging

Well, you’re reading a blog, so obviously you know what blogging is all about. At least the reading part of it. For individuals, blogging plays a similar yet more sophisticated role that enabled MySpace to flourish in its heyday. With a blog, you can create your space. Write what you want, design it how you want, interact how you want…you get the picture.

Of course, businesses and SEOs figured out how helpful blogs can be for driving traffic. So there’s that too. But don’t be fooled. Blogging is about putting your stamp on a piece of digital real estate. It’s about having a voice, and being yourself. Let the manipulators manipulate, and use it for what it was intended to be.

Microblogging

A lot of pundits claim that microblogging is a type of social media, and that’s hard to argue with. The issue I have is that it’s not really all that different from social networking. Sure, you can curate content, share links, and make commentary with only a certain number of characters. I’ll call it a type to be sure you know what it is when you see it. The most prevalent and well known example of this is Twitter.

Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking has been around for a long time. Essentially, this is about finding and literally bookmarking a piece of content via the cloud. Some services show most popular (Digg), some include social networking pretty aggressively (reddit), and others use a simple “show and vote” structure (StumbleUpon). You can follow people with good taste and are likely to see material they bookmark that you like. This has also been proven to help get new content ranked faster than submitting to Google direclty, so if you aren’t social bookmarking, reconsider that now. I, personally, like the convenience of the StumbleUpon Toolbar for rapid content sharing.

Both Facebook and Google+ have incorporated features that are very similar to bookmarketing, the “Like” and “Plus One” buttons. WIth these, you bookmark/share content with your social network and welcome conversation afterward. It’s like reddit, only with all your actual friends instead of your equally cool yet far more geeky friends. That’s my take, anyway.

Social News

Some argue that services like Digg and reddit, which allow you to vote on news items that are shared, should actualy be called Social News. I’m including it to be thorough, but at the end of the day, it’s just another name for social bookmarking with a twist.

Media Sharing

This is where you share audio, video, or other media freely. Viewers can friend or follow you, like or dislike the content, and even comment a’la a blog. YouTube is the most well known example of this type of service, although there are literally hundreds of them to choose from. If you know of a great niche media sharing site, please share in the comments!

Social Gaming / Fantasy Sports

Social Gaming is still in flux in some ways. Basically, it’s about mutually playing a game online with real people. Fantasy Sports is the most popular and longest lived social gaming platform I’ve seen.

ColecoVisionThat said, Google Plus built social gaming right into the interface from the start. Other platforms have dabbled with it, and I think they all still have a ways to go. I’ll be watching with interest, to say the least. Have always been a gamer at heart, all the way back to the TRS-80, Atari, and ColecoVision days. (Yes, I’m that old. Pic to the right in case you’ve never seen one.)

Conclusion

If this list holds true, that would mean that we have seven types of social media in 2012. What did I miss?