Posted in Articles By Sam Applegate
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest... They're all the same, right? Wrong.
It's all too common for people to think that social networks will provide the same service and that they are all in competition with each other. While there is some degree of competition between them, different social networks have carved out their own niche.
A most basic example is that LinkedIn is generally for business, while Facebook is mostly used for social interaction outside of work. In this article I'm going to run through some of the most notable social networks on the web, and what their different purposes are, and how you can utilise them most effectively.
Let's start with the big one, Facebook, the most utilised social network in the world. It is such a significant player in the market that it doesn't really have a specialisation, it does almost everything.
Not only does it provide you with the information about what your friends are doing, but it has grown to become a base for fan groups, publishing articles and even retail. Facebook has come under some degree of scrutiny for violating user's privacy, so make sure you proceed with caution!
Twitter utilises something called microblogging, which for those who don't know, is where you publish a very short message about what you are doing. It's basically like a public diary where you can only make entries that are 140 characters long.
Twitter is particularly useful for people who want to establish a following. For example, if you are the world's authority on rainbow carp fishing, then setting up a Twitter account would be a good idea as people will follow you and you can share information with them.
It was hardly surprising that in 2011 Google decided to launch their own social network. As the most visited website in the world, it was only going to be a matter of time before the company jumped on board the social networking bandwagon.
One of the major advantages of using Google+ is that it is so tightly integrated with the search engine itself. Searching when you are logged into your Google+ account is going to deliver results that are even more tailored to your needs and Google previously delivered.
This network uses intelligent 'circles' which allows you to update only certain parts of your network, a particularly useful feature for bringing better engagement to your profile or business. A disadvantage is that Google+ simply doesn't yet have the user base that more popular social networks possess (think Twitter or Facebook).
For those who are looking for a professional social network then LinkedIn would be the best choice. I've found the LinkedIn can be a very good place to show off your professional skills and qualifications, which you might not want on your Facebook profile. It is also a network where recruiters look for potential employees, so if you are doing a job search it is well worth signing up. LinkedIn doesn't have as slicker interface is some of the other major networks.
Reddit and Digg
Both of these websites are rather different as they do not have a focus on individuals, but rather have a focus on content. They aggregate articles from around the web and bring them to a wide audience of people.
The user base is able to vote on articles they like and the most popular will rise to the top. There are a wide number of subcommunities on these websites where you can get information about a certain topic and interact with other people who are interested in it. These two websites have a significantly smaller user base than some of the social networks listed above, which are more people centric.
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing websites on the Internet, and one of the newest players in the social media scene. It is a website that allows people to 'pin' items to pin boards, which can later be 're-pined' by other people, these items overall tend to be images and some videos rather than text.
The company declare their mission as connecting people by the things that they are interested in. If you are looking for a place to find other people who are interested in your hobby, this is a great social network to come to. Perhaps strangely considering its image base it has not been over-run with photos of half naked women. This is presumably because since its launch it has become particularly popular with women rather than men, so if you female, or women are your target group of customers, Pinterest is a good place to call home.
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