Although social media is still in its infancy, there’s no doubt that it’s here to stay as new social media sites crop up every day. While many can’t compete with the big dogs, every once in a while a newcomer exceeds expectation and is catapulted into the big time. There are dozens of popular social media sites online, each filling its own niche; however, there are a handful that are more popular and more commonly used than the others.
While Facebook got a rather controversial start, it’s quickly risen to the top of the social media sphere with more than 70 percent of American Internet users interacting on a regular basis. Although Facebook was originally designed to allow people to connect and interact with each other, it has quickly morphed into so much more. Now the site allows businesses to maintain pages that users can like so they can stay updated on their favorite companies’ happenings.
Even potential employers and law enforcement agencies are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, but for an entirely different reason. Employers are checking out potential employees’ Facebook profiles to see what kind of information they’ve posted to the social media site and may, in fact, decide not to hire someone based on the information they find. Law enforcement agencies have been known to monitor Facebook and have actually found a few criminals who were unscrupulous enough to confess their crimes on the site.
Launched just six short years ago, Twitter now has more than 140 million active users who generate more than 340 million tweets or posts each day. It is one of the top ten most visited Websites on the Internet and provides an easy way for people interested in the same things to interact and share information. Twitter limits each tweet to 140 characters, which forced users to adapt a code to share longer strings of information. In addition to text, Twitter allows users to share URLs, which are now automatically shortened by the site before posting.
Although some people may not see the benefit of sharing only 140 characters at a time, the site has proven incredibly popular and is a great way for businesses to interact with their clients and gauge the general public’s reaction to new products or services as well as to discover any grievances customers may have.
LinkedIn was founded in 2003 as a professional social networking site. Whereas Facebook allows users to become friends, LinkedIn users form connections. Typically users form connections with current and former coworkers, colleagues and others in their industry. The site allows users to share some details about what they’re currently working on, which allows colleagues and co-workers to stay abreast of your business accomplishments. The site also allows people to write recommendations for other users, which can be viewed by potential employers. Because LinkedIn is a business focused Web site, it’s important to remember that anything posted here should be professional as potential employers may consider your LinkedIn profile as well as your connections during the hiring process.
A relative newcomer to the social media world, Pinterest continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It is one of the fastest growing social media sites with nearly 12 million unique users each day. The site allows users to “pin” images to boards that they create. Think of it as a visual bookmarking system if you’d like. Users pin images, which are linked back to the Web site they came from, and other users can repin these photos to their own boards, like pins or post comments on pins. Users can follower other users so they’re pins appear when the Pinners You Follow link or the can browse by category or see what’s most popular. Pinterest also offers a search bar and a bookmarklet tool that users can install on their bookmark bar to make pinning from other sites quick and easy. Currently Pinterest is by invitation only. While people can request an invite directly from Pinterest, it can take a bit of time for the invite to arrive. If you’d like to join Pinterest, try finding a friend who is already on Pinterest and asking them for an invite.