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Essential Tools for Social Media

By Char

Essential ToolsGetting social on the web does not just mean having a MySpace page – it is far beyond that! Getting social on the web is really the defining difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. In the first generation of the web, it was all about providing information to your readers – the web was a one-way street. Web 2.0 is all about the user and giving the user a voice – thus making it a two-way street.

For my Essential Tools series today, let’s talk about essential tools for being social on the web!

Defining the different ways to be social

There are different types of social on the web and each category has a different focus (with some overlap in functionality):

  • Social Networking is probably the most widely known Web 2.0 term. From MySpace to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other similar sites, the focus of social networking is to connect you with others – your friends, people with similar interests, potential employers, and then give you the opportunity to find more connections as your profile grows.
  • Social Bookmarking (like, Furl, Ma.gnolia) sites allow you to organize your favorite sites, tag them for keywords, and keep them all in one place. Very handy. However, what makes these sites social, is the ability for you to share them with others.
  • Social Recommendation sites combine the best of social networking and bookmarking to create user generated recommendation sites. Sites like Digg, Netscape and StumbleUpon encourage users to submit items they like and then give others the opportunity to vote on them. There are also a large crop of smaller niche sites like BizzBites, Sk*rt, Babblz, BUMPzee and such that are evolving to cater to the specific needs of certain audiences.
  • Social Content sites include Flickr, YouTube, and wikis to name a few. These are sites where users create and manage the content from photos to videos, information on a topic, and everything in between.
  • Other sites such as MyBlogLog, Technorati, and Blog Catalog give users the ability to network, bookmark and recommend all under one handy roof.

Obviously these are just the tip of the iceberg! Check out for an amazing visual directory of Web 2.0 sites!


Making the most of your social life

  • keystrokes-blog-gal-2.jpgGet a good avatar. It is much easier to remember a picture than words, which is why avatars are so popular with the social crowd. Avatars help you create your social identity. Recommended avatars include a clear photo of yourself, your site/company logo, image that is easily identified.
  • Be consistent with your identity. While it may make sense to have one identity for your business site and another for a personal or niche site, you don’t want to have 5 different user names for 5 different sites. It just makes it too hard to define your personal brand and it makes it difficult for your friends at one site to find you at another.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin! The number of social media sites is growing daily and you just can’t be everywhere. Pick a few sites that provide you with value – sites where your peers are – and establish yourself.
  • Be active! Once you have found the sites you want to use to build your social presence – work them! Make friends, vote for articles, share your links. Your site traffic will thank you for it!

Social media plugins

There are a host of plug-ins you can add to your sites to help others Stumble, Digg, favorite, and bookmark you. Here are just a few of the WordPress plug-ins that I use/have used or my friends recommend.

This post does not even begin to cover every aspect of social media, networking and bookmarking, but hopefully it gives those of you who are new to the social media arena a good starting point. For those of you who are using social media daily – share your tips, insights and tools with us!



Wow! That Web 2.0 directory is AWESOME! That’s going to come in extremely handy in the coming weeks – so thanks for that! :)


Great explanation! I just stumbled it some others can use this information as well. Thanks for putting this piece together.


Paul – isn’t that amazing? I really like the rollover feature that gives you a quick snapshot of what each service is all about.

Laura – thanks for the Stumble – it is one of my all time favorite tools.


I like how you have split soical media tools into subsets. That helps makes sense of the seemingly overwhelming range of tools available.


Great Essential Tools post Char!

I like to think of Social Media is terms of Networking Online.
Your post is well-in-line with my column this month, the Top 10 Online Networking Ideas!

As they say, great minds think alike!

Stumbled my dear ;-)


Yvonne – There are definitely subsets and even though there is some crossover, it helps to know who does what so you can get the most value out of it.

Ponn – I hadn’t seen that post yet – I am off to check it out.


GREAT post Char! One of my faves from you! :)


Nice post, Char, and I agree with Paul when he’s digging the Web 2.0 directory. That’s a LOT of sites!

Good to see your lovely photo up top now. Some good little tweaks to your design I see.


Wendy – thanks!

David – thanks for noticing the little tweaks. I have a few more in mind, but I am still working them out in my mind.


The problem seems that these social bookmarking sites are popping up everywhere and it is becoming tedious to submit to so many of these sites.


Great post, simple but effective. Alternative is dailyhub which is aimed at business geeks. Also when publishing to lots of social bookmarking site check out


I definitely struggle with spreading myself too thin! The wonderful thing about social media is that there is no limit on the number of connections–real connections–a person can make. The horrifying thing about social media that makes is addictive and self-destructive is… that there is no limit…


I only get about 2 to 3% of my traffic from my social space profiles, but I believe that they’re sending the spiders more frequently and giving me a little link juice.

Plus it’s fun. Last week Tony Dovolani, a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars, sent me an email asking me to join his Ballroom Dancing Channel. We had an online chat about his site and I was able to give him some SEO tips.


Great post. I like how you broke social media into sections. And gave the specifics about each sections. Well organized and thought out.

Donna Wells


Wow, cool chart, thanks!

I loe using Facebook and Twitter, they seem to be the most social and most useful.



A great post and I wish I had known about that web 2.0 directory earlier.. that’s pretty cool. Thanks!


Great post here!

You really break down the ways
that someone can take advantage
of the technology that is out

Thanks for sharing the VALUE:)


Thanks dood, I find having an incentive to view your social marketing from your websites increases link juice and referrals though social sites.

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