One of the biggest ways the Internet has impacted daily life is with social media networks. These online services create virtual spaces where people who share interests, or know each other in real life can exchange messages, videos and pictures. You also can use larger networks to advertise a business, find coupons, catch up on current events, play games, and more. Social media networks have become a major factor in how people stay in touch, meet new people, and keep informed.
There are literally hundreds of social media networks, from The Ravelry for lovers of knitting and crocheting, to invitation-only sites like aSmallWorld for the jet-set elite. The top social media networks boast millions of registered users each. In November 2012, Experian Hitwise studied online traffic based on a sample of 10 million U.S. Internet users and found the 10 most popular networks. If you want to make connections online, these sites are good places to start.
Facebook is the social media equivalent of an 800-pound albino gorilla. You can try to ignore it all you want, but it is a waste of time. As of October 2012, it had over 1 billion registered users all over the world. Many of your favorite stores and brands offer exclusive, Facebook-only coupons and deals.
There is an old saying, “The revolution will not be televised.” As it turned out, that is the truth. It will be uploaded to YouTube. The sprawling video site has millions of clips, including family celebrations, newscasts, full-length movies, and made-for-web series.
Twitter is micro blogging social media that brings you the world in 140 characters or less. Because of the brevity of its “tweets”, it is ideal for smartphones and tablets.
Pinterest is the scrapbook of the Internet. It allows users to “pin” pictures, videos and objects on themed boards that can be shared with other users. Pinterest is one of the few social media networks with more female users than male ones.
If it is late at night and you have a question you think no one knows the answer to, there is only one place to go: Yahoo Answers. Started as Yahoo! Q & A in 2005, it is a community-directed site where users can ask questions, and other users offer answers. The site has a point system to encourage participation and serious responses.
Based on games, Tagged is a social media site emphasizing meeting new people by encouraging members to browse each other’s profiles.
Google’s answer to Facebook, Google+ is designed to operate less as a single site than as a layer that operates throughout all of the sites owned by Google. It can be quickly accessed from the Google search engine page and Gmail.
While most social media sites primarily deal with personal relationships, LinkedIn was developed to create a professional network. It is based on the idea that in business it is not what you know but whom you know that counts. You can make connections with people in your field to exchange information and job recommendations.
What YouTube is to videos, Instagram is to photos. This social media site has a companion app that filters users’ digital images to add specialized effects and imperfections. It then collects the pictures in a photo stream that is easy to share on other networks.
Tumblr is the social media site for people who want to use more than 140 characters to express themselves online. With no character limit, its users are free to take their blogs to the next level with longer posts, photos and multimedia pages.
The internet marketing program at Minnesota School of Business works with employers to teach the skills that are in demand. Social media networks are important beyond social interaction. They are a great tool for businesses to utilize for advertising and marketing.