There are many social networking sites available now in the online space. Some you may have heard of and some might be completely foreign to you. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have been around for years, whilst other sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are much newer. With so much choice in social networking websites, how do you choose which one is right for you or for your church? Below is a little guide to the top few to help you decide.
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world with 1.55 billion monthly active users, 65% of them using it daily. The social network was created by Mark Zuckerberg and was original designed as a network for university students. Since 2006 it’s been available to everyone over the age of 13. Whilst there are users of all ages on the site, it now has a reputation as a place for parents and grandparents to keep up with their younger family members’ activities. Whilst the biggest group of users are in the 18-29 age bracket, the percentage of those in the 65+ age bracket is increasing.
The social network lets you post updates in the form of text, video or photo, play games, find and message friends and join groups or pages of particular topics or interests (such a favourite TV show, a public figure or, of course, a church!)
Alongside profiles, Facebook lets you create ‘Pages’ or ‘Groups’. A page is like a public profile that anyone can follow. Companies, products and churches have their own Facebook page. Groups are smaller communities inside Facebook which can either be open for all to join or closed to a select few. A youth group or a youth leader network may create a group to communicate with each other and share content.
Through Twitter you can post messages of up to 140 characters. This might not seem like a lot but you’ll be amazed how creative people can be with the character limit they are given. In the ‘tweets’ you can also include images, polls, videos or links. Anyone can see your tweets (unless you specifically mark them as viewable to your approved followers only) and you can view everyone else’s. It’s used in a variety of ways but because of its reputation for being ‘of the moment’, it’s mostly used to record live moments (it’s so quick that a lot of news is reported through Twitter before the major news outlets)
The site has 316 million monthly active users (many fewer than Facebook) and 500 million tweets are sent every day.
Whilst Twitter is easy to use, it does have its own language and style of messaging that’s completely unique to the site.
If you ever created a mood board or pinned inspirations and ideas onto a cork board, this site will be familiar to you. Instead of a real cork board, you have many ‘boards’ to which you can ‘pin’ pictures, recipes, ideas, and more. You can upload them from your computer, take them from websites or ‘re-pin’ from other people’s boards.
You can search through the many themes or just search keywords to find all the things that interest you. It may be craft activities, fashion, architecture, typography and design, flower arranging or just cute cat pictures. People then use the boards to organise the pins they like into their own themes such as ‘Wishlist’, ‘child friendly recipes’ or ‘Wedding ideas’
There are just under 50 million users of Pinterest around the world but because of its focus on craft, recipes and weddings, its user base is mostly female.
Youtube is by far the most successful video sharing website with 300 hours of video uploaded every hour (that’s 12.5 days worth of video uploaded every minute). It’s also the second most popular search engine after Google (which owns Youtube) People can upload videos for others to watch, build playlists of favourite videos or comment on other people’s videos. The website is over ten years old and is the most popular site by far for sharing videos. Youtube can also be used for sharing live video as well as being the home of ‘Vloggers’. A vlog is a video-blog featuring a young person talking about their interests such as make up, books or gaming. These ‘Vloggers’ have massive followings, many with over a million subscribers who watch all their videos, transforming them into a new kind of celebrity. Because Youtube offers money to creators of original content if they include advertising on their videos, Vloggers can earn a living through uploading their videos to the site.
Instagram is all about sharing photos. The mobile app lets you easily add pre-set filters to your photos (to change the lighting, contrast and colours) without the need for expensive or complicated photo editing programs. You then post the photo with a comment and hashtags for your followers to ‘like’ or comment on. The biggest user group of Instagram is aged 18-29 and it is used to document life in a very visual way. Everything from what they’re eating, to where they are in the world, to who they’re hanging out with. The site has 300 million users and has increased in popularity rapidly in the last few years.
Blogging is like an online journal. People use it to comment on everything from current events, their own thoughts and feelings or a recipe they want to share, or even sharing social media advice! People can then share the blogs or comment on them. The most popular standard blogging website is WordPress but another popular blogging site is Tumblr. Whilst the site lets you create simple text posts to your blog, it’s a much more visually focused platform with photos, Gifs (short animated pictures) and videos. Tumblr also attracts a younger audience.
WordPress bloggers generally fit into two categories: Those wanting to share their knowledge on a subject (i.e recipes, poetry, book) or those wanting to comment on a particular subject (i.e faith, politics, film). The blogs are normally around 500-1000 words and are ‘tagged’ with key words which help people to search, which is helpful considering WordPress users produce over 52 million new posts every month.
Other sites you may have heard of:
- Vine: Lets you share 6 seconds of video (people manage to be incredibly creative with this!)
- Snapchat: Lets you send friends photos and videos that self-destruct after 10 seconds (Think “Mission Impossible” without the explosions!)
- Vimeo: Another video sharing site similar to Youtube (Known for its high quality videos, also lets you password protect certain videos)
- LinkedIn: a professional social networking site for people to find jobs, network with people in similar fields and discuss professional ideas
- Google+: Put people you follow into differently themed ‘circle’ groups, share content and find content based on your interests (connects to your other Google accounts such as Youtube)
- Flickr: A photo sharing site which can group photos into albums and lets people view or download the photos
- Periscope: Share live video broadcasts over the internet to anyone in the world