I have been talking to a lot of college and graduate students lately. First, to a graduate class at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio this past Monday and then yesterday to Kelli Matthews class at University of Oregon.
One of the things I emphasize when I do one of these overviews is that Social Media encompasses a broad variety of things. In fact, there are so many types of platforms that I felt I needed to better classify them in my own mind so as to communicate it more effectively to clients and students. Having some of this defined can also help public relations professionals who admit they are having a hard time integrating social media into their public relations planning.
So, here is what I have come up with so far. Some of the examples I give cross over into other categories, but I have chosen the category in which I feel each example primarily fits. For instance, I put YouTube in “Social Networks,” but the site also allows the promotion of content and could technically fit into “Democratized Content.”
I did not try to exhaustively include examples, though I did try to showcase some of our marketing/PR resources (plus some of the more well-known platforms) to make this a useful list. Please feel free to add your own examples and categories in the comments section.
Seven Categories of Social Media
Publishing Platforms: These consist of platforms and tools that allow the author(s) to set the content of the initial offering. Most offer a way for others to comment on the content and include RSS feeds to syndicate the copy
- Examples: Blogs (Constatin Basturea’s List of PR Blogs), Podacasts (Shel Holt’s list of podcasts), and Vlogs or Video Blogs (Beet TV is one of my favorites).
Social Networking Sites: These sites allow users to interface by becoming friends and/or sharing favorites. They allow the individual user to have their own space, while also incorporating links and other connections to other users
Democratized Content Networks: These sites allow all users to contribute equally, usually with some sort of ability to vote for the best content, or to override, in the case of Wikis, previously submitted content.
Virtual Networking Platforms: These often require third-party interfaces to participate (though some can be accessed through the browser), and consist of a virtual reality experience with other users.
Information Aggregators: These are publicly available, machine driven aggregators of niche content, usually with some human editing (such as adding RSS feeds) involved in the process.
Edited Social News Platforms: These are sites where users recommend links and can make comments on the stories that make it through the human editors
Content Distribution Sites:
Sites that allow the user create, collect and/or share content and distribute by providing RSS, code and/or e-mail options. Widgets would also fall into this category.
I know I have probably overlooked something major, so I await your comments and collective knowledge. Also, if you hate or love the category names, let me know. I am listening…