Beginner's guide to social networking

14th Mar 2012 | 14:43

Beginner's guide to social networking

Become a social media grand-master

Introduction

Can you imagine a time before social networks - a time before the latest news story broke on Twitter ahead of the major news outlets, and before we had the ability to set up events on Facebook?

It's even becoming tough for us to imagine the days when we followed our favourite bloggers through news readers and RSS feeds because, increasingly, Google+ does that job for us now.

As for LinkedIn, it's fast become the place to go to hear the latest career buzz, get a drop on jobs first and stay in touch with work colleagues, old and current. But, like the human brain, much of the potential of social networks goes unused.

There are several reasons for this. Twitter, Facebook and even newcomer Google+ add features all the time. Few are fully publicised, with tech savvy users latching on first through corporate blog posts and back channel rumour.

Then there's a category of features that would more properly be classed as workarounds - ways to add useful tool and functions that are otherwise missing from the site in question.

We've been using the big four social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, since they launched, and have picked up some good habits and handy tricks along the way. In this feature, we want to pass them on to you.

Some are tweaks and some are tips, but many are simply examples of best practice. We talk about the ways you can make your social networking tools work for you, instead of being a slave to the status update or servant of the tweet.

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook has been accused of fudging privacy from day one. In response, the site has been through several cycles of refinement. Each new feature seems to expose a fresh set of privacy issues, which are then fixed. Then another feature comes along that takes us back to square one.

The biggest overhaul of the Facebook interface since 2004 rolled out worldwide in December 2011. The timeline feature patches a problem that dogs social media: accessing old data.

Though faster to publish material, social media is difficult to search after the fact. It's traditionally been tough to locate old tweets and status updates. Facebook's timeline changes that, offering a magazine-style layout of your present and past organised by month and year. You can navigate directly to any point in that timeline and see updates, comments, photos and links you posted on Facebook.

It's pretty cool and if you've yet to be prompted to change your profile, you can sign up by scrolling to the bottom of www.facebook.com/about/timeline. The problem is, with Facebook's default privacy settings, you're not the only one who can dig back through the past. If your posts were initially public, so can anyone else.

Facebook's suggested solution is to give you seven days from the moment you opt in to go through your timeline and edit it. If you've been on the site for the best part of half a decade, that's a lot of updates.

Facebook timeline

The easiest way to deal with this is to tweak your privacy settings so that only friends can see past posts. Go to 'Settings' (the arrow next to 'Home' on the main page) and choose 'Privacy settings'. In the section labelled 'Limit the audience for past posts' click 'Manage past post visibility'. You can restrict posts so only your Facebook friends can see them. Any posts with other filters in place remain unchanged.

You can further restrict access to posts that others have added to your wall. Unfortunately, this is currently the only timeline privacy setting you can customise. Our suggestion is to make a list of your closest friends - the users you're comfortable broadcasting everything to.

Click 'Lists' in the navigation column on the left of your profile, then 'Create list' on the new page. When you've made this list of trusted users, go back to the Privacy Settings page and choose 'How You Connect'. Click 'Edit settings', then in the 'Who can see posts by others on your timeline?' section, select 'Custom' and choose the trusted group.

Even with Facebook's privacy settings set to kill, there's a lot of private data whizzing about over Wi-Fi when you access the service. Recently, Facebook introduced an option to use the site via HTTPS.

To switch it on, go to the settings arrow and find the 'Security' option in 'Account settings'. Edit the 'Secure browsing' option and choose 'HTTPS'. This will help protect you from network sniffing attacks and data interception exploits that could result in your account being compromised - especially over public networks.

As lovely to look at as it is, the new Facebook timeline could well be the last straw for users keen to keep their lives private. So how do you remove yourself from Facebook - especially when it has become so integrated into our use of the net?

Good news - you can do this easily by going to the settings menu, selecting 'Account settings' and choosing 'Download a copy of your Facebook data'. The archive includes wall posts, messages and chat, photos, videos and contact details for your friends.

Once you've copied your data, your profile is easy to deactivate. Click the settings arrow, go to 'Account settings' and choose 'Security'. Click 'Deactivate your account'. This removes you from Facebook by hiding your profile and removing you from friends' lists, but it doesn't remove your data. If you choose to reactivate, all you have to do is log back in.

To make the ending final, Facebook makes you jump through hoops. First, there's no direct option to delete your account.

You need to go through the Facebook help centre at www.facebook.com/help. Ask the question 'How do I permanently delete my Facebook account?' In the final paragraph of the help document that pops up, there's a link that enables you to delete your account permanently.

Facebook secrets

Tap into Facebook's hidden features to find friends and browse securely

keyboard shortcuts

Are you a Facebook ninja, craving faster access to your social media fix? If so, you'll be pleased to learn you can navigate the site with your keyboard.

Browse to your profile in Google Chrome, then try combinations of the [Alt] key with number keys 6-9. Pressing [Alt]+[6] takes you to your account settings. [Alt]+[7] allows you to tweak your privacy settings. If you need help in a hurry, [Alt]+[?] will get you there, while [Alt]+[M] takes you to your Facebook messages.

If you're using Firefox, add [Shift] to the key combo to make it work.

Using Facebook is, of course, all about connecting with people. The site's search tools are more powerful than you might realise - partly because Facebook suggests results. There could be other, better results lurking in that list you can't see.

For example, if you're looking for a friend, try searching for known email addresses instead of their name.

Facebook has patchy support for boolean search operators. For example it supports the '|' symbol, but not 'OR'. The results are the same though. Search for two items and Facebook returns data on both.

You can filter search results by selecting categories from the navigation on the left once a set of results has been returned.

Finished adding friends on a public computer? Hope you remembered to log out, but if you didn't, Facebook can take care of that. Log in when you get home and go to 'Settings', then 'Account settings > Security'. Click 'Edit' next to 'Active sessions'. You'll see a list of Facebook sessions you logged into, but failed to log out of. Any of those can be closed.

To add an extra layer of security, you can restrict Facebook so you can only log in from designated machines. Firstly, in 'Security', click 'Edit' next to 'Security notifications'. Tick the box so you receive an email alerting you any time someone logs in to your account. The next time you attempt a log in from a different device, you'll get an email and you'll be asked to give that device a name. It enables you to track who logs into your account and when much more effectively.

Finally, here's a tip from social media scholar Danah Boyd. She observed how some Facebook users deactivate their account every time they log out. Because Facebook simply suspends the account rather than deleting it, you can reactivate it when you log back in.

The point? It enables you to protect your data - and prevent others from posting on your wall while you're away, sending you messages, or interacting with you. That's a bit drastic in our opinion, but it certainly thwarts would-be stalkers and data miners.

Master the Facebook timeline

The new Facebook timeline lets you rewrite history. We look at three ways to manage your past

1. Hide content

FB 1

When you first opt in to the new timeline profile setting, you have seven days to spend tinkering with it before the new layout goes live. In addition to setting global privacy options, you can delete or hide any individual post you've made in the past. Click the pencil icon in the top right corner of a contentious post and choose from the options available.

2. Feature old posts

FB 2

If you're particularly proud of any particular update - the birth of your baby or your team winning the cup, for example - you can feature updates too. Roll over the top right corner and you'll see a star icon next to the 'Edit' button. Click it to highlight the post in your timeline. This reformats the update, making it larger and more prominent on the page.

3. Add new updates

FB 3

You can even edit your past to show your best side. Scroll down to any point in the timeline, or use the navigation list at the to right to go to a particular year. Click on the timeline and a menu pops up, letting you add new photos, places, events and even status updates - though the idea of retroactively updating your status does seem like a bit of a cheat…

Twitter

Twitter

There's no secret to getting the best from Twitter. There are just two things you need to do: follow and filter.

When it comes to following, recommendation services like Twibes and WeFollow are a good starting point.

Twibes enables users to create groups, transforming the API into something closer to a message board experience. Divided into categories, it's easy to find like-minded users this way.

WeFollow is a user-edited directory. You can add yourself to it, listing your interests using hashtags. Over time it has become a definitive list of Twitter users categorised by interest. One issue with it is that it tends to promote the most popular or followed users - quantity over quality.

A more dedicated and old fashioned approach may reap better rewards. First, follow people you know and who you're interested in. Next, if you use a client to access Twitter, visit the site itself every now and then.

On your own profile you'll find recommendations based on Twitter's own algorithm under 'Who to follow' (or 'Discover' in the latest Twitter layout). Click 'View all'. This list analyses your own followers and suggests similar profiles. It's based in part on who your followers follow.

In the same section you'll find the often overlooked 'Browse interests' directory. These are Twitter's suggestions, arranged into categories. Again, the list is skewed towards more popular users, but it's still worth picking through.

Twitter lists

Once you have a decent number of people in your follow list, the messages come in thick and fast. The difficulty is no longer finding people with something to say, but finding which parts of the stream to pay attention to. A decent Twitter client can make all the difference.

Enter Tweetdeck. This cross-platform Adobe AIR app connects to your Twitter account. Most importantly, the Twitter-owned software allows you to filter your stream into manageable categories.

TweetDeck does this in two ways - groups and saved searches. Groups let you add people you're following to a themed list. You can then assign a column to that list so you only see Tweets from those users in that column. For example, you can create a list for celebrities you follow. You'll never miss a Tweet from Katie Price again.

Similarly, when you click 'Add column' you can choose to enter a search term that returns all tweets that contain that keyword or words instead. The column is persistent too. It'll stay open, streaming tweets containing the chosen keyword, until you delete it.

A tip - if you're already a TweetDeck user, make a TweetDeck account. This will let you save your group and saved search columns to the cloud, accessing them wherever you use TweetDeck. That includes the online version as well as the embedded Google Chrome app.

TweetDeck groups are now integrated with Twitter lists. This is a great tool for both following and filtering users. The easiest way to make your own list is to browse your followers on www.twitter.com. Each one has an arrow next to his or her name. Click it to display a number of options, including 'Add to list'.

Lists can be shared so other users can subscribe to them, or private so you can filter the conversation. To find a list once you've created one, click the 'Lists' option on your Twitter homepage.

Part of the fun is subscribing to other users' lists. It allows you to follow a set of people without actually following them. To find lists, start by visiting the full profile page of a user. Click on their username and a preview of their profile pops up. Click 'View full profile', then click on the 'Lists' tab. Instead of displaying your lists, this shows lists created by the selected user. To subscribe to a list, click the link in the dropdown, then click 'Follow this list'.

When you've made or followed a list, you can add it to TweetDeck. Choose 'Add column', then 'Lists' to select from all your subscribed lists.

Why not cut down your Facebook time and get Twitter to take care of your status updates? Go to http://apps.facebook.com/twitter to install the official application. Now your Twitterless friends can see what you're up to.

The best Twitter clients

TweetDeck

Choose the right tool to connect to Twitter and manage your timeline, and you're halfway to becoming a social media master

The Twitter site is fine, but microblogging lends itself to so many different scenarios that one site can't possibly fit every permutation. We find that the service is best experienced through one of its many clients, and we don't just use one - there are different clients for different purposes.

DestroyTwitter is a tool designed to help you filter Twitter - taming your timeline rather than destroying it. You can use it to specify what you want to see and what you don't, with the ability to remove specific followers, hashtags and keywords from your timeline.

To be fair to TweetDeck, it allows you to do the same thing. The unique selling point of DestroyTwitter is that it's a natively coded application rather than an Adobe AIR app, which means you avoid the memory and stability issues associated with TweetDeck.

As for extra bells and whistles, DestroyTwitter has none. It's just for Twitter, and won't help filter any of your other social networks.

If your social media life needs some kind of sprawling control centre, HootSuite is the tool to use. A browser-based client, it pulls data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other services, and is aimed at serious social media users. With tools to track updates, post to multiple sites and schedule content distribution, it's more a brand management tool than a simple social media client.

This becomes more apparent as you look into the premium options available with a HootSuite Pro account. Tracking tools tell you how many of your messages convert to clicks, drawing data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

It is, in many ways, the absolute opposite of DestroyTwitter - peeling back layers of API and sucking out every byte it can get, and both services have their place.

There must be a happy medium, surely? A tool that integrates multiple social media destinations without the stats and number crunching of HootSuite? A client that filters out the noise, but that runs happily in your browser?

Give Seesmic a try. We prefer it to the browser version of TweetDeck, which feels underpowered and clunky in comparison to the desktop version. There's a desktop version too, and your settings and data are shared between them.

If all these extra functions mean nothing but hassle to you, then we'd say you should either stick with www.twitter.com or for a really frill-free experience, use Echofon. It started life as an iPhone app, crossing over to OS X. Now there's a plugin version for Mozilla Firefox, which sits fairly unobtrusively, updating over your browser. There's also a very usable and typically clean version for Windows. It's in beta, but stable.

What's more, it syncs data with your iPhone - remembering which tweets you have and haven't already seen. Despite Echofon's relative simplicity, that's a TweetDeck-beating feature.

Twitter tricks

Work around Twitter's built in limitations with this choice selections of tweaks

1. Break the limit

twitter 1

Twitter limits the number of API calls from external clients to 150 an hour. If you go over the limit, Twitter access stops working. TweetDeck allows you to add search columns that look for anything, including your own name. Delete the 'Mentions' column and replace it with a search column to beat the limit.

2. Reply in public

twitter 2

Controversially, Twitter changed the way it displays your replies to other users a year ago. You can only see conversations between people if you follow both of them. Good for privacy, but bad for meeting new people. Simply put a full stop before the @ sign to thwart this behaviour.

3. Search the past

twitter 3

Twitter only lets you search through archived tweets that were posted within the last six months - anything older than that won't appear. Fortunately there are third party services that let you get around that restriction. If you're looking for older tweets, try FriendFeed. Use the syntax keyword service:twitter.

Google+

Google +

Google+ is, by our count, Google's sixth attempt to launch a social network.

First there was Google Groups - an online reinvention of Usenet that's still limping along. Then there was Orkut, a sort of private Facebook for business types and early adopters. Friend Connect, a service few people have heard of or used fits into the slot before Google Buzz. That was a Twitter-style content sharing tool bolted on to Gmail.

Finally, there was the company's most notorious and glorious failure - Google Wave. Combining collaborative editing tools with message board mechanics, there were lots of early adopters, but few people engaging.

All this primed critics and reviewers to give Google+ a thorough kicking when it launched. The fact is, whatever those guys say, Google+ is doing pretty well. There are currently 40 million registered users, from a standing start in June 2011. About 15 million of those are active and posting regularly. That's comparable to LinkedIn, which was established in 2003. In short, Google+ has the accolade of being Google's first successful social network.

Twitter divided critics at launch too. It still does. The perennial problem is that social networks are often painted as direct competitors to each other, even when the services and tools they offer are quite different. If you compare Google+ to Facebook, its current traffic and statistics look paltry. But Facebook is a different kind of social experience, as is Twitter.

Facebook is all about you. It places you at the centre of your personal, social universe, enabling you to broadcast news and updates to a selection of users - most of whom you will know personally. Google+ is a bit different. In the jargon of social media gurus, it's asymmetrical. That simply means it's for following content that others produce rather than for keeping in touch with your friends.

It looks like a streamlined version of that other, very famous social network. You have a profile, a wall (called a 'Stream'), photo galleries, games, people you follow and a list of followers. But on Google+ the balance is tipped in favour of consumption rather than contribution. In that respect, it's like Twitter. Twitter for blogging.

There are five sections to Google+, and the Stream is the core. This allows you to see updates from the people you follow - text, video, links and photos. To get going, you need to add some people.

Google grab 1

Google's integration with Gmail makes this quite straightforward as you'll begin after sign-up with a slew of suggestions. You can also search for Yahoo, Hotmail or from email address books in CSV or VCF formats.

Like Twitter, Google+ enables you to add the people you follow to lists - called Circles, in this case. Circles enable you to choose who sees what you post. You can add individual users to posts or add entire Circles full of users.

While many early reviewers seized on the enhanced privacy implications of the Circles approach, the system works in two directions. Yes, you can use Circles to make some content invisible to the majority of users. However, power users on the service post publicly and use Circles to filter incoming content. That's where the term 'asymmetrical' begins to make most sense.

Circles can also be used to curate content Streams, as they can be shared. This is one of the very best ways to find interesting Streams and add them to your own Circles.

To share a Circle, go to the Circles page, click the Circle of friends you want to share, then select 'Share'. This lets you post a link to a shared Circle to your Stream, which is the equivalent of Facebook's wall.

A point worth making is that no one can see your Circles unless you share them. That means you can call them anything and no one will be any the wiser. You'll find shared Circles by looking through other people's Streams.

You can also use Google+ search to find all shared Circles in your stream using the keyphrase 'shared a Circle with you'. Yes, it should be a button, but there's a quick way to make it into one. Enter the phrase, search for it and, on the results page, click 'Save this search'. It will be instantly added to your sidebar as a link.

Get more from Google+

Use hidden features and expert know-how to enhance your Google+ experience

google grab 2

Most Google services have built-in shortcuts to make them easier and faster to use, and in Google+ they're far more consistent than Facebook's offerings.

To scroll through the Stream quickly, hit the spacebar. Hit [Shift] and the spacebar to scroll back up again. Hitting [J] takes you to the next post in your stream and [K] goes to the previous one. While you're reading a post, the [Enter] key will open up the comments box. Pressing [Tab]+[Enter] together will submit the comment when you've finished writing.

Google+ is all about creating and sharing content. If you use the platform for blogging, which many are beginning to do, you'll appreciate the built in markdown shortcuts for formatting. To bold text you uses asterisks, like *this*. Use the underscore _ on either side of a word or phrase to format in italics and a -dash- to strike through a words.

When talking about other Google+ users you can directly link to their profile by placing a + at the beginning of their name. Google+ will prompt you to autocomplete the name from you Circles, or from users who have commented on a post.

Google+ isn't just about public posting. Those Circles can be used for private posting and even one to one messaging. You simply create a new post then remove the default Circle from the 'Add people' field. Next, begin typing the name of the person you want to address directly. A menu will pop up, enabling you to autocomplete. You can add as many individuals as you like to a single post. Better still, make a Circle if you communicate with that group of people regularly.

Of course, before you can have people to talk to, you need to find them. Adding people you know is a good start, but Google+ is as much about finding and sharing interesting content as keeping in touch.

You can search the Streams by keyword to find posts and add any particularly interesting contributors to Circles. Another little known feature to help you find interesting posters: you can repost content on Google+ using the 'Share' button. The service tracks shared material using a feature called 'Ripples'. This renders a graphical chart of the people who have shared the data and shows their relationships to one another. You can access Ripples by click the arrow next to any shared post.

Sharing content - an idea similar to retweeting or reblogging (from teen favourite Tumblr) is central to Google+. To spread the practice far and wide, Google came up with the +1 button. You'll see this embedded in blogs and news sites around the web. Clicking '+1' is similar to clicking 'Like' on Facebook, but with additional options.

If you're a G+ user, you can create a post when you click +1 on any site. If you want to add the button to your own sites, grab the code from www.google.com/+1/button.

Share photos with Google+

Photographers, get ready to use G+ - the easiest way to upload, edit and share pictures online

1. Automatic upload

Google + 1

Google+ has the cleanest photo sharing tools we've seen on any social network - and that includes dedicated service Flickr. If you have an Android phone, it's even easier to use. Install the Google+ app from Android market and all images are automatically uploaded.

2. Share with Circles

Google + 2

If that sounds a little alarming, there's no need to worry. Just because a photo has been uploaded doesn't mean that it's shared with everyone. You have to do that manually by logging into your G+ account and clicking the 'Share' button. Before you do that you can edit your pics.

3. Edit online

Google + 3

Along with basic features for cropping and fixing your photos, The Google+ 'Creative Kit' also offers an assortment of trendy vintage filters and effects - a bit like Instagram. By the way, the copyright to any content you post to Google remains yours - including photos.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

While Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the internet's party venues, LinkedIn is the office.

The sober, clean layout, largely unchanged for the best part of a decade, tells you everything you need to know. Business is LinkedIn's business. With 120 million users, no other work-centred social network comes close.

Can it really help you get work? Like many services, it depends on how you use it. LinkedIn has three real purposes.

The first is consolidating contacts. This is the primary use. While other networks have friends or followers, LinkedIn has 'connections'. These are, in general, people you know - people you've worked with and who are useful contacts for your book. As many jobs are filled by word of mouth, it's useful to keep in touch with existing or old colleagues.

LinkedIn is also good for making new contacts - that's its secondary purpose in our book. As in the real world though, you need to follow the etiquette of business.

A mistake that rookie users often make is to blindly request LinkedIn connections that look useful to them. The system is actually built to discourage this, yet some users abuse the filters and checks designed to stop people you don't know contacting you. Don't be one of those people if you want to get the best from the site.

Another error is to treat LinkedIn like a mailing list, spamming followers with all your activities. Neither approach will win friends or influence people positively. Instead, use the networking tools that LinkedIn provides.

LinkedIn 1

LinkedIn's groups are a great place to build relationships and demonstrate your expertise. Join in discussion naturally and actively. Use the site's 'Answers' application too. Before Quora and Formspring, this was the place to publicise knowledge smarts to a community of potential employers.

The third way to use LinkedIn is as a replacement for the old-fashioned curriculum vitae. It has all the same components, with space to talk about your work experience, academic achievements and job skills.

'Recommendations' are, effectively, a type of instant reference. Your LinkedIn profile is nothing without them, so call in a few favours and request some.

When your profile is looking complete - and LinkedIn will prompt you to fill in every bit - you can begin using it as part of your personal branding. Get the short version of your LinkedIn URL and put it in your email signature, on business cards and on your blog.

Connecting to LinkedIn

To get LinkedIn working for you, it needs to talk to your other networking services

1. WordPress

Link 1

Connecting a WordPress-powered blog to LinkedIn enables you to drive traffic to your external site and, hopefully, get potential employers to get more detail than LinkedIn can provide. Choose 'Add application' on the right. You can easily filter what is and isn't posted.

2. Twitter

Link 2

LinkedIn now asks for your Twitter address in your main profile and enables you to Tweet directly from the site. Is this wise? It depends on how you manage your presence online. If your Twitter account is optimised for the consumption of professional colleagues, do it.

3. Instant CV

Link 3

When you've fully and comprehensively filled out your LinkedIn profile, you can print it out or convert it to a PDF. LinkedIn strips out all extraneous information and navigation to leave just the important parts of your profile. It gives you an instant and cleanly formatted CV.

Six networks to watch

The big four have newcomers nipping at their heels. We look at six services with something to prove

Diaspora

diasporafoundation.org

Diaspora

When Google+ rolled out, the emphasis seemed to be on privacy. Then two things happened.

First, people began using it to blog publicly, using Circles to amass users rather than block or filter. Then Google did what it always does: integrate everything. It began sharing data from Google+ with other apps, to the annoyance of privacy advocates.

This is where Diaspora comes in. It's a closed, distributed network, hosted across a variety of user machines rather than in one central location. You can join, or set up a 'pod' or node. The network allows the use of pseudonyms rather than real names.

Google+ notoriously enforces its real names policy to the extent that users better known by nicknames have been removed or forced to use their birth names.

Instagram

http://instagr.am

Instagram

Though other photo services and sites have social features built in, only Instagram seems to have hit the right balance. Though based online - and with an open API that has spawned a slew of third-party sites - the official service is best accessed using the official channel: an iOS app.

This tool combines three elements: the iPhone's high-res camera, a series of built-in filters that can make any mobile snap look like a vintage photo, and the ability to instantly share images with friends who also use Instagram.

The simple interface has more in common with photo-blogging services like Tumblr than gallery tools like Flickr or Picasa. Instagram has achieved phenomenal success on just iOS with over 10 million users. An Android version is currently in development.

Disqus

disqus.com

disqus

For users, Disqus looks like most registration-based commenting systems. The difference is, you only need to sign up once. The next time you find a site with the service enabled, you're ready to comment.

As users rapidly discover, every comment you make is archived and accessible through www.disqus.com. That builds a record of your interaction with blogs. Other Disqus users can favourite comments or follow you - just like Twitter or Google+.

We'd like to think that Disqus encourages a more measured approach to commenting - a happy medium between the anarchy of anonymous contribution and the privacy-invading use of Facebook for comments. It's been adopted by several high profile sites a a result, from The Telegraph to CNN.

Quora

quora.com

Quora

In the digital economy, knowledge is currency - and Quora's the place to spend it. Members post questions in categories for other users to answer. The best answers are voted up by the original poster and the community of users. The return you get is that most valuable of virtual commodities: a good reputation.

Quora is partly about opinion. Like the comments section of blogs, it lets anyone speak their mind. Overlaying a system of selection makes that opinion valuable to other users.

In common with Wikipedia, Quora harnesses the wisdom of crowds, and much like the online encyclopedia, it does it in two stages, with contributors and editors. In Wikipedia's case, editors are hands-on, able to get in there and alter content. With Quora, the mechanic is more simple: they edit with a simple thumbs up.

Glitch

glitch.com

Glitch

Glitch is a 2D, massively multiplayer platform and world building game. It has also has all the components you look for in social media.

There are profiles, internal mail and chat systems. You can add friends to a list and create chat groups. The fact that all this takes place within a game is both incidental and integral.

The most successful games on Facebook leverage the interaction that takes place between people. The same observation can be extended to MMPORGs like World of Warcraft. Make no mistake, these are social networks, where getting ahead requires making connections and gathering friends.

The same tools that enable this teamwork also allow casual conversation. Like the MUDs of old, Glitch hosts gatherings and parties, where users log on not to play, but just to hang out and chat.

Tumblr

tumblr.com

Tumblr

Tumblr is the original, long form re-sharing platform, with tools that let you follow friends and be followed. You can post photos, text and video on Tumblr, with the majority of content being clipped and shared from other sites.

The site was launched around the same time as Twitter and predates Google+, but the mechanics are similar. So why isn't it as well known and mainstream?

With 34 million users, it has fewer regular users than either service. We think the answer comes down to demographics. While Twitter is loved by media types and Google+ is the place for tech-savvy early adopters, Tumblr has a very youthful, teenage vibe.

That doesn't mean you should write it off. It's great for photo blogging and posting images, and recommend anyone who's less wordy and more visual to give it a try.

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