Human beings are social creatures, and therefore, are dedicated to creating and participating in “social networks” in order to express and share their ideas. With the rise of the internet, people began satisfying this natural necessity in online communities such as internet forums. The evolution of these social forums resulted in today’s global social networking.
Today, everyone has heard of the most popular social network– Facebook – but there are many more social networks than solely Mark Zuckerberg’s popular website. Some of these are designed for sharing information, some can help you find a new job, some are used for sharing videos, music or pictures, and some are uniting members of a particular interest. Here is a list of the most interesting social networks there are and what makes them so remarkable.
As previously mentioned, Facebook is known to almost every internet user. Facebook is a global social network, which hundreds of millions of users use to connect and share content. Currently, Facebook has more than 900 million users. After registering on Facebook, you may create your own personal profile and add friends that you want to share status updates, photos, videos or chat with. Furthermore, there are Facebook Pages, which you can ‘like’ to become part of a community that has a common interest – favorite actor, popular brand, favorite company, etc. You must be at least 13 years of age in order to create a Facebook account.
Twitter is a social network, but is drastically different than Facebook. It is a micro-publishing system, which allows you to compose short messages of 140 characters that are known as “Tweets.” To create your own Twitter community – you can ‘follow’ someone in order to receive their Tweets in your news feed or you can be ‘followed’ by others and they will receive your Tweets. Another special characteristic of Twitter is the use of hashtags in order to reach a larger audience. By using a hashtag symbol (e.g. #Twitter), other Twitter users that are following that particular hashtag are more likely to see your Tweets.
Although YouTube is not considered a social media platform, it has social media characteristics and is very popular, thus making it worth mentioning. YouTube is a video-sharing website where you can view, share, upload, comment on, like or dislike videos. The majority of the content that is uploaded to YouTube originates from individual persons. However, there are many official YouTube “Channels” for companies, bands, singers, etc. In order to upload, comment or like/dislike videos you have to create a YouTube account. However, unregistered users are still allowed to watch videos. YouTube is included in this list, because it has its own community and similar to other social networks, you can “like” content, interact with other users, and follow the Channels that you find interesting.
LinkedIn is a social network designated for “professionals.” This means that part of your LinkedIn profile that is most important is your career, jobs, education and other skills. Many users are no longer sending the traditional Curriculum Vitae to their potential employers; instead they are sending them a link to their LinkedIn profile. Surprisingly, many employers are even requiring job candidates to provide their LinkedIn profile with their cover letter. Besides allowing you to publish your CV, LinkedIn allows users to join groups, use applications, post your business references, and search for any type of business contact. Additionally, this business social network is an invaluable tool for managers and human resource directors. This social network helps many HR officers and headhunters search a large pool of potential employees. However, the basic LinkedIn profile is limited in function. If you want more advanced options then there is a monthly user fee.
Google+ is one of the newest social networks, launched by Google in June 28, 2011. The server presents itself as a service that can help you stay in touch with your friends and acquaintances, and discover new interesting people. Once you will register to Google+, you can fill in your personal information, upload your profile picture, add photo albums from Google Picasa Web Albums, and connect your Google+ profile with your Twitter profile and much more. Moreover, you can communicate either just with one of your friends, groups of people, or you can speak to the “whole world.” Depending on your privacy settings you can allow anyone to see your status updates or comments. You also have the option of reading status updates of others even if they are not one of your friends.
Instagram is also a relatively new social networks – launched in October 2010. It is a smartphone application that allows you to take photos, apply various digital filters to a photo, and you can share them with other users on Instagram or other social networks. What differentiates Instagram from other services is the square shape of all the photos, in comparison with the usual 4:3 ratio from regular cameras. In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for a billion dollars.
Pinterest is a very unique social network. On Pinterest, you have a virtual pinboard, where you can create, manage and share image collections that are related to a particular topic – hobbies, interests, household, etc. Once you are registered, you can browse other users’ pinboards, “like” their photos and “re-pin” their images to your own pinboard. Founders of Pinterest believe it should “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” You can use Pinterest to decorate your home, organize your wedding or search through food recipes. Pinterest has been particularly successful amongst the female demographic.
Yelp is another unique social network, which was founded in 2004. It helps you to find great local businesses like restaurants, hair saloons or shops. As a Yelp user, you can search reviews of local businesses as well as write your own review based on a past experience. Moreover, you can use Yelp to look for various events, lists or just chat with other users. Every business can establish their own account to share photos and messages with other users. Similar to other social networks, the majority of Yelp reviews come from advertising that businesses are purchasing. This has resulted in Yelp receiving criticism that advertisers are affecting the reliability of Yelp’s ratings and reviews. However, Yelp has clearly stated that no one, including paying advertisers, can change or tamper with existing user reviews.
SoundCloud is an online sound-sharing service that allows you to record, upload and share music or other audio recordings. Recording and uploading songs to SoundCloud can be done either privately, with specific individuals, or you share them publicly on websites or social networks. The reason SoundCloud was included in this list is that any user can find, create or share music or audio recordings amongst a large number of groups that cover every genre or style. Thus, you can stay in touch with people that are interested in the same music genre, listen to people that are contributing in this genre and comment on the songs or recordings of others.
Flickr is an online photo-sharing and image/video hosting service that allows you to share photos and videos with your friends or others and you can organize the photos in an original way. You may also grant permission to others to organize photos, add notes below a photo or tag photos. You can use Flickr to discover photos from other people, organizations and companies such as NASA. You may also comment on other photos and create a specific community with the people that are sharing your photos.
Badoo was launched in 2006, and today is one of the largest social networks for meeting new people. Badoo’s founders state their mission is “to provide the world’s easiest, fastest and most fun way for people to meet each other.” Thus, Badoo is mainly a dating-focused online service – users of Badoo can chat with each other, set up dates and rate others pictures. Badoo has some 160 million users making it the largest dating-focused social network. Even though, it is open to people that are 18 and higher, there has been criticism that there are a lot of younger users.
Flixster is an online service that combines social networking and movie reviewing. As a Flixster user you can share movie reviews, discover new movies, learn about movies you don’t know about and get in touch with people that are interested in the same movies and movie genres as you. In addition, you can integrate Flixster to your Facebook profile so you can share movies with your Facebook friends, discover movies that your friends are watching and add movie reviews to your Timeline. Furthermore, in 2008 Flixster introduced a new iPhone application, which allows you to access movie reviews, trailers and show-times.
Classmates.com is one of the oldest social networks – it was launched in 1995. This social networking service allows its users to reconnect with their friends, acquaintances and, as the name suggest, classmates from kindergarten through University. At first, the service was designated for American users from American schools and businesses. However, soon the service spread worldwide and now is helping people find their “lost” friends and former classmates not only in United States but also in Canada, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France and American/Canadian Schools overseas.
Myspace is a social network launched in August, 2003. At one point, Myspace was the most visited social networking site, surpassing Google as the most visited website in the US in 2006. Shortly after Myspace was surpassed by Facebook in terms of unique visitors and since then, its user rate has constantly declined. In spite of this failure, Myspace set the foundations of today’s mass media social networking services, including its gaming platform that started the success of the present social networking games giant – Zynga. Moreover, Myspace has its own Instant Messenger – MyspaceIM, which is an independent program for Windows as well as a web-based client. You have to be older than 14 years to be able to register to Myspace.
DeviantART was launched in 2000 and is an online social network for artists and art enthusiasts. It is the largest social networking service of its kind. DeviantART aims to gather, entertain and inspire artists; it is there for them to showcase their work and discuss it with others. DeviantART also integrated chat capability features. As a registered user, you have your own profile, where your works are organized in a category-like structure including digital art, traditional art, photography and even movies. Moreover, you may download numerous stock photos and tutorials.
Foursquare is a geo-location based social network. The service is designed primarily for smartphone users and other mobile devices. Foursquare allows you to “check in” at various places using the application for devices that support geo-location. The application offers you a list of places nearby and you just click on the one that you are currently in to “check in.” Every time you “check in” at a place, you will gain points (sometimes badges) and you can compete with your foursquare friends to gain more points or badges. Moreover, you can write a comment along with your “check in," so you can, for example, recommend a good restaurant, post a photo from that place and share your check in on your Facebook profile.
Qzone is a Chinese network created by Tencent in 2005. As a user you are allowed to write your own blog, keep a virtual diary, send photos to your friends and listen to music. Furthermore, you can set your own Qzone background and select accessories according to your own taste. Put simply, your customizing options on this social network are really wide. Nevertheless, most of the Qzone services are for a fee, which really limits your options when you are not willing to pay for your social networking. But be aware, if you are not familiar with Simplified Chinese, you will not find this social network much of good site because it is available only in this language.
Launched in 2000, Habbo is a Finnish-based social network targeted at teenagers. Habbo’s main feature is a “Hotel” that can be accessed by registered users. Once you log in, you are redirected to a screen called ‘Hotel View’ where you can contact other Habbo users using the “Habbo Chat.” Many features of this social network do not appear in the ‘Hotel’ itself – there are User Pages, Groups, discussion forums and various games. This social network is available in many languages. However, there had been some privacy issues and was temporarily shut down. Nevertheless, once the issues were solved, the site was re-launched.
Hi5 is a social networking site which was launched in 2003. It has many similar features to other social networks, like the ability to create a profile to show off your personal information, share interests, join friend networks, share photos, create user groups, post status updates, listen to music and post comments. In 2009, hi5 has added several new features aimed for the gaming and entertainment community. Despite the fact that hi5 was launched in United States, it became more popular in other countries, predominantly in Latin America and Mongolia and in 2008, hi5 was believed to be the third most visited social network.
Vimeo is a video-sharing service, where you can view, upload and share videos. It is one of the only video-sharing sites that is able to compete with YouTube. Moreover, Vimeo was the first video-sharing website that supported consumer High Definition (HD) videos. The site is popular mainly among indie filmmakers and people with passion for film. This service is, however, available only in two languages – English and Spanish. As a user of Vimeo, you can send messages to other users, comment on their videos, share them on other social networks, create your own Channels and Groups and thus it is a social network disguised as a video-sharing service.