June 20, 2012

The Social Medium: 5 Social Networks You Should Be On

3 Downtown.

You're probably on Facebook and Twitter, but apart from knowing the big ones to be on and the faded stars of MySpace to avoid, there are so many social networks out there. We have less time to devote to more and more social channels. Not everyone needs or wants full on blogs or websites. Here are five (perhaps secondary) social networks you should probably be on and actively be using or interacting on if you're serious about this whole social media thing and your online branding.

1) Instagram.

Let's start with the obvious. This billion dollar photo sharing network has hit the big time with a piping hot critical mass. At this point, you kind of have to be on it (available for iPhone, iPad, and Android).

Twitter has even lost some lustre due to Instagram's popularity. Its basic photo stream structure has replaced Facebook's photo tagging and uploading in ubiquity so much so that the social media giant paid (insert Dr. Evil voice here) one billion dollars for it.

In many ways, its photo sharing stream has supplanted the boring old status update. But whatever, you're probably already on it anyway.

2) Tumblr.

I've been saying this for ages: Tumblr is a highly underrated yet powerful social medium. Basically a microblogging service in between Twitter's 140 characters and WordPress or Blogger's long form, freebase blogging services, Tumblr is great for instant posting and documenting things in the moment.

Also, Tumblr is all about positivity. It's good for posting photos and videos seamlessly to a stream mostly, but has great adaptability for audio and text. You can call-in, email, snap up, or use mobile apps to upload intsantly to Tumblr.

Very specifically targeted blogs dedicated to memes and viral topics have skyrocketed Tumblr's appeal. Among my favourites are Accidental Chinese Hipsters, Awesome People Hanging Out Together, and Definitely Raining.

Tumblr is basically great for visual microblogging and concepts you can't fit into a status update. It's also a great tool for collecting content. You can easily post your photos (like from Instagram) directly to Tumblr to make archiving and organizing much easier as a way to curate your content.

Tumblr is a must particularly for content creators, journalists, photographers, bloggers, artists, and those who work in creative mediums. It's a great non-intensive promotional tool for content and archiving your own work without the grunt of full-on blogging.

3) Yelp.

Yelp is here to stay. You've probably seen signs in local business saying, "Review us on Yelp!"

Much has been said about this user review site's ability to make or break local businesses. It's even reached the cultural zeitgeist with tons of pop culture references, particularly on television. Good reviews by regular folks make a difference and its mobile app makes random adventures and close business searches a breeze. Here, interactivity and usefulness is at an all-time high.

Yelp is a must for anyone eats out, uses local business, likes to try and do new things, and definitely for business owners or operators. It gives you instant access to feedback and is a great tool for discovering new things in your local community. They also throw great parties.

4) Flickr.

This recent article on how Yahoo! killed Flickr and killed the internet is mostly spot on. However, Flickr is still king for photographers and licensing. Competitors like 500px are still up and coming. Flickr's $25 pro account and its unlimited uploading is great for bloggers and interacting photographically.

Despite its missteps, Flickr is still the leader in photo-based social networking as it makes photo sharing a breeze. It's also essential for finding photos you can legally use for blogs and projects through its licensing and Creative Commons tools.

Flickr is still where it's at for those wanting to showcase and share their photos online with its powerful and automated tools.

5) About.me.

This basic personal directory webmaker is an easy way to make a homepage and tell followers about all your social networks. You can make a page in minutes listing all your deets and stats easily. It's an instant personal splash page and great for putting as your website in social bios. The best thing is all you have to do is set it up, link your networks, choose a layout, write a bio, and you are done like dinner.

I think the future of social networking is moving more and more towards specific networks with niche and specialized targets and away from mega networks that do it all (a la Facebook) and this a way to put them all in one place. I should mention its clone Flavors.me (actually, I believe Flavors came first), which is almost exactly like the former. Flavors is a little more professional but has limited (free) functionality, where About is easier and more streamlined. Both act as online calling cards.


I personally think Linkedin and Pinterest are two of the most overrated networks out there, not to say they aren't valuable. Neither of them is a must. Unless you work in a professional industry with a high degree of networking and relationship building required, Linkedin is still optional (IMO). Even then, just uploading your resume and keeping it up date without any interaction on your part is usually fine and dandy. The thing is users make Linkedin so easy for snooping and stalking.

Pinterest is for (besides women) mostly hobbyists, enthusiasts, bloggers, and artistic types. It's more about inspiration and less about interaction and being social. However, it's great for product showcases leading to sales. Basically, it's for pretty things.

Path is slowly increasing in popularity as a streamlined Facebook/Twitter type hybrid that does it all, but only on your smart phone. Its simplicity and interactivity is a real plus. However, it's still under the radar and for keeners. I think a lot of folks use it because it's still cool and has yet to be co-opted by the mainstream. Its a refreshingly stripped-down, basic network that doesn't overwhelm with a great UI interface and experience.

Last thing, Google+ is still vastly under utilized and unnecessary, but still great for SEO and Google indexing.

Photo | Rommy Ghaly

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