Essential Tools for Social MediaBy Char
Getting 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 del.icio.us, 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 Go2Web20.net for an amazing visual directory of Web 2.0 sites!
Making the most of your social life
- Get 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!