In my job I find that people are mostly confused about Social Media, what it is, how it is used, why it is used, and the different types of Social Media.  The most common questions people ask me: “How do I get plugged in?” “Where do I start with social media?” “What is social media?” “What is the difference in social media and social media marketing?” “How can I use social media to get people to my website?”   There are different types of Social Media when you really think about it.

Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are considered “social networks” where people can sign up, enter their profile, their likes about movies and books, and information about their backgrounds. Social Network sites allow collaboration between the people who have signed up on their network. FaceBook is more of a personal collaboration site where LinkedIn is more on the “professional” side. With LinkedIn they want to know about your work history and allow the members to collaborate in groups or individually. Yammer is a “private” social networking site that is becoming popular with businesses. It helps employees collaborate within the company.

There are “social news sites” such as SocialMedia Today, Digg, Mashable, Social Times, and Digital Trends (just to name a few) feature stories about what’s going on in the social media world. Some of the sites feature user-posted stories which are ranked by popularity and other sites only allow posts made by people within the company.

Want to be able to store, search, and manage your social sites, then “social bookmarking” is what you need. Sites such as Diigo, Pinterest (which is argued to be the latest “hot” social bookmarking” site), Google Bookmarks, and StumbleUpon are just a few of the social bookmarking sites available today for people to store, manage, organize, and search their favorite website bookmarks.

Social media sharing” is a big hit on the web today. With tablets and smartphones at our instant convenience to snap that “cute” photo or embarrassing video and instantly upload it to the web, social media sharing has become extremely popular. For video sharing, YouTube and Vimeo are by far the top rated sites to share your videos. Both of these sites are used for both personal and business videos. For that instant snap shot that needs to be shared, Instagram and Flickr are the most popular photo sharing websites.

Most people do not think of “blogs” as a social media platform, but they can be. “Social blogging” is found on sites usually built on a Content Management Site (CMS) like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress (just to name the most popular) CMS sites. These sites can be set to NOT allow “user comments” or to allow “user comments”. When the sites are set to allow users to comment on articles it is considered a blogging platform. These type of sites can have long articles people and read and then comment on if they choose.

This brings us to the “microblogging social site”. Microblogging is where the user enters a short “micro” comment, video, or picture and the site pushes it out to people who are subscribed to that site and are following that user. Twitter is the most popular microblogging platform used today. Google+ and Facebook can be considered microblogging platforms since the posts can be short and sweet.

This is a small list of the different types of social media and as you can see some can overlap from one type to the other. Knowing and understanding the different types can help one determine how they want to use social media.

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