Which is the Best Social Network?

Social Networking - Smart --crop.jpg

Sep 04, 2014 by Smart Blog

Around 60% of the world's population is now regularly online - and what do they do when they are there? Apparently, the answer is 'visit social networking sites'.

Consumers spend more time on social networks than they do on any other type of website, and year on year the visitor numbers seem to grow

Networks

There is not, in fact, an accepted definition of 'social network', but in general terms social networks take the form of websites, through which users share information and content, make connections and interact.

It is possible to describe several sub-categories of social network, because sites can be defined by purpose (e.g. professional and business networks such as LinkedIn, more informal and social networks such as Facebook) and the dominant form of content (photographs on Instagram, visual media on Pinterest, and so forth).

Some sites that would not immediately be 'branded' as social media may also have social media elements, for example forums and direct messaging services. In general, however, there is a growing group of sites that are widely viewed as the dominant social networks. These include: 

  •          Facebook (which allows users to share text, videos, photos and other media)
  •          LinkedIn (primarily for business and employment networking)
  •          Twitter (a micro-blogging site, which allows users to post short comments, links, photos etc.)
  •          Pinterest (primarily visual media)
  •          Instagram (primarily photographs)
  •          Flickr (primarily photographs)

 

Fashions Change

With the internet now celebrating its twenty fifth birthday, a range of social networking sites has grown and vanished over the years. Who now remembers Mugshot, or Planet All? Not many. And even though the likes of Facebook - which hit 900 million users in 2012 - look unassailable, even that site has seen its demographics shift, with many media carrying stories that young people now avoid Facebook for fear of running into their parents (or grandparents) on there!

Another key shift seems to be affecting social media, and that lies in sites' increasingly specialised natures. As technology evolves, so does the ability of networking sites to offer services targeted firmly at their core audience. So people who prefer to communicate visually are more likely to use Pinterest or Instagram than Facebook, those who want to make business connections use LinkedIn more than Flickr, and so forth.

So in one sense, the question of 'what is the best social network' can only ever be answered by the individual, based on that individual's communication preferences.

 

Up and Coming

Finally, it is important to bear in mind the expanding choice of social networking sites. In an already crowded market (Wikipedia lists well over a hundred active social networking sites, and states that this is not exhaustive), some new sites are making more noise than others. For example, ShareBloc (primarily business based), Medium (a mini blogging site, comparable to Twitter), Chirp and Learnist are all being touted as the 'next big things'. So for those who have yet to find their perfect social network, fear not - it is bound to be out there somewhere, at some point.