We are spoilt for choices as users of social media. They are not all the same although some are similar. SOOS OIO has defined 7 social media categories to help us navigate through the countless options.
1. Social Networking
I will start with the most popular category with Facebook topping the charts garnering more than 1 billion users to date. Social networking platforms facilitate interaction with other users and the building of interest communities.
Examples: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature, music or film, i.e. the activity of making content available to the masses. Traditionally, publishing is only available to the professionals, like journalists, photographers and filmmakers. Now, social media gives all on the Internet equal opportunity to publish their works, from amateurs to professionals. Under the umbrella of publishing, it can be divided it into 3 divisions — writing, podcast and multimedia. Podcasts are audio posts whereas multimedia includes both static visuals and videos.
Publishing – Writing Examples: WordPress, Blogger, Medium
Publishing – Podcast Examples: iTunes, Soundcloud
Publishing – Multimedia Examples: YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr
Blogs are categorised under publishing – writing. Microblogs, as its name suggests, are platforms where users post small elements of content like short sentences, single images, links, etc. Its ease of use is a key reason for its popularity.
Examples: Twitter, Instagram,Tumblr, Vine
Review platforms gather a collection of reviews and ratings by users about businesses, products, services or even people.
Examples: Expedia, Goodreads
Instinctively, bookmarking platforms allow users to store and share Internet bookmarks. Alongside, they provide organisational tools, categorisation, tagging, annotation, commenting and other kind of services to enrich user functions.
Examples: Pinterest, Reddit, Delicious, Digg
Geolocation is the identification of the actual physical geographic location of an object or person through a device. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, have recently incorporated geolocation function into their platforms.
Examples: Yelp, Foursquare
7. Social Knowledge
Social knowledge platform is a collective knowledge base built through user collaboration and participation. The most known social knowledge site is possibly Wikipedia. There are many specialised sites that focuses on particular interests. Forums are also considered a social knowledge platform that are topic specific.
There are 3 other categories that some would consider as social media but are not included based on our definition of social media.
1. Communications like Whatsapp, Skype, Line, etc are social but has stronger characteristics as communications rather than media. The line is beginning to blur as apps like Line and Snapchat is taking on more microblogging characteristics.
2. The second is Search Engines like Google and bing. They are media with broadcasting capabilities but there is no social portion to them. Thus, Search Engines are not added to the social media categories.
3. The third is eCommerce. It gathers the masses but its primary objective is sale of products and not social although many incorporated the Review function. Even so, eCommerce is very tightly linked to social media in many ways.
I have one category that is yet to be categorised – Gaming, more specifically online and multiplayer games that has social interaction during play. Would you consider Gaming social media? Maybe you can share your thoughts on this.
The examples of social media listed are not exhaustive. As technology advances, the merging of functions of each category becomes easily attainable. Many social media platforms will then be crossed categorised. A time will come when categorisation of social media will not be possible and functions will be the way to go. For those who are interested to dig deeper, Honeycomb Framework of Social Media is commonly used to analyse social media based on functions.