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SOCIAL MEDIA's six genres

Updated on February 22, 2017

Confused by all the new terms of social media?

Social Media is a virtual "cocktail party" 24/7

Don't be confused. In fact, if you have ANY interest in marketing, advertising, promotion or building awareness of yourself, your skills, your product, service or web site, you need to "get your head around" Social Media, and do it quickly.

Why? Because those NOT aware of the awesome potential of social media are doomed to lose in the marketplace to those who ARE aware of it.

This article will briefly explain social media and how it works.

First, lets organize the above picture into six basic categories:

Making sense of social media

Lights, camera, action

Next, let's take each of those six genres and explain each one.

To help you learn, we'll be using some colorful graphics, some very interesting (and short) videos, and um...even some plain old text.

The result: after reading or even just skimming this article, you'll have a basic grasp of social media, or at least be able to use hold your own in a conversation on this subject.

It's the network

So many sites...which ones are for you?


Within the broad umbrella term "social MEDIA" is social NETWORKING, the first of six genres. Social networking is fast becoming an easy and convenient way to rub virtual elbows with anyone else online,

Through social networking, you can be at the same "cocktail parties" as your present and future customers.

Social networking sites like Facebook ( and LinkedIn ( are great for business professionals to learn about each other and create friends within various online spaces. Long ago (meaning: about 8 years ago), younger people originally made the leap into social networking with MySpace ( which quickly became the most popular of its kind. But that name is way in the past now, honors now go tto Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Foursquare, and many, many other social media since then.

Conversely, a site like LinkedIn is terrific for adults and people looking to connect professionally with other people because there are literally NO kids there, only people with business relationship-building in mind. LinkedIn is a resume-posting and sharing site, where YOU post your resume and recommendations. In fact, once you have a LinkedIn profile, it will often rank #1 when people Google your name, so even Google sees it's importance in the business world.

The best way to build relationships on a social network is by doing what's called "building out your profile" with your real photo, family pix, along with your bio and background.

There are literally thousands of social networking sites (see graphic, right), so unless you have very unusual interests, you'd mostly likely want to sign up for the most popular social networks with lots of people, or do some quick research before signing up for a random site.

It's important to not "spin your wheels" spending hours setting up a profile on a social networking site, only to find out later that it only has 21 members, or that it's mostly for Canadians (not that there's anything wrong with Canada!), or that the site was just launched yesterday afternoon. In other words, it's usually best to join a site that already has traction, momentum, and lots of members.

A million bookmarks walked into a bar...

The top 2 bookmarking sites


Genre #2 is the social bookmarking concept of social media, which allows people to "tell the world" what sites, articles, photos, videos or blogs they are most interested in.

Social bookmarking sites collect all this info and present the results in rank order, from the millions that have provide this information.

Remember "party lines"?

In a way, social bookmarking is a little bit like the old fashioned telephone "party lines" in the early days of phone service in the USA.

Here's how "party line" phones used to work in the 1940s and 1950s: Before everyone could afford the luxury of private telephone service, "party lines" let you have a phone, but many others were shared the same line with you!

Young people (or anyone under 40 who doesn't remember this) will find this kinda unbelievable, but this is true: if the telephone in your home was on a party line and you wanted to make a call, you'd pick up the phone and might hear someone else in the middle of a conversation! You would have to hang up and wait for the line to be free.

In a similar way, social bookmarking gives everyone the opportunity to take the topics they talk about most and create a "most talked about" list.

The best-known social bookmarking sites are Digg ( and the originator of this concept, Delicious ( CHeck them out, join each one, and get read to sumbit your most popular destinations and see what others are "digging" or find "delicious".

It's also much like a 24/7 focus group of what people are looking for in the past hour, day, week, or month!

Everybody's talkin'

Blogs in Plain English (click link to view)

Blog about tech gadgets

Everybody's talkin'

Social media genre #3 is the wildly popular arena of BLOGS and MICROBLOGS.

A blog (a contraction of the phrase "Web Log") is really an electronic version of a personal diary that's left open for everyone to see, and to comment on.

The old-fashioned diaries would NEVER be left around. Hey, those were personal! Ask any woman over 50 or 60 who may have kept a diary in their teen years or when they were first married.

Today, blogs are essentially one-way monologues by one person about their thoughts, experiences, ideas or observations. Occasionally someone reading another's blog will want to leave their own COMMENT on someone else's blog.

Blogs from celebrities, political figures, TV or radio personalities will still be a one-way monologue of their thoughts, but because they are famous, their blogs will often have dozens or sometimes hundreds of comments each time they add another posting to their blog.

The most popular blog on earth, as of this writing, is the Huffington Post, focusing on American politics ( It's literally packed with many nationally-syndicated newspaper and television journalists and op-ed writers, each with their own blog. Because they are such compelling content creators, they are all receiving many responses to every thought they post.

A popular blog for lovers of tech gadgets is Gizmodo ( and is pictured above.

There are millions of other blogs worldwide. Anyone can set up their own blog in minutes for free, and be posting their own comments with no restrictions or censorship whatsoever.

MICROBLOGS are tiny blogs, usually less than 140 characters per message, and used to send very small messages to those who have said they want to hear from you regularly. The most famous microblog service is Twitter (, the messages twitterers send each other are called "tweets". Other microblogs are Plurk (, Pownce ( and Spoink (, but there are many, many others.

Swap shop

Obama encourages VIDEO SHARING of stories via YouTube

Sharing fotos with Flickr

Sharing & swapping text, video, and pictures

There are hundreds of web sites where the main goal is to exchange and share each others experiences.

CONTENT SHARING sites, like these HubPages, allow average people like me to post articles (content) on subjects they're familiar with.

PHOTO SHARING sites allow anyone to post their own pictures where anyone can see and comment on them, or just look at them. Two of the first photo sharing sites were PhotoBucket (, Google's Picassa (, and Flickr (, but since the "early days" of photo sharing, there are many more:

Along came Instagram ( Pinterest ( and Tumblr (, just three of the fastest-growing and most popular photo-sharing sites today. Each of them specialize in sharing of images, where you can also add some text to caption or describe the photo, and sometimes add a video, too.

In fact, most social media platforms these days allow the attachment or addition of an image, either a static image like a photo or a moving image like a video (see "video sharing" below).

VIDEO SHARING sites like YouTube, the granddaddy of all video sharing sites ( create an environment of other people's videos on a seemingly endless array of subjects, topics and interests.

There is an uptick in the growth of video sharing sites these , days, too. Video-sharing platforms like Vine ( and now Instragram allows you to post short-length videos (Vine's max is only 6 seconds; Instagram, up to 15 seconds).

And Twitter, just last year, has integrated both photos and videos to be attached to any text posted, giving that platform lots more life and vibrancy.

Of course Facebook integrates both photo sharing with video sharing, with no real maximum limits on length or sizes.

Marketing your marketing

Marketing you ASK for is not spam!

Today's best marketers know how to promote themselves, their companies, their products and services in such a way that their potential customers actually ASK for more information, or to be updated on changes in the industry.

Through "opt-in" email, anyone can sign up to receive updates from a company or person or service. At any time, you can "opt OUT" of emails you've originally requested.

SMS (short message service) text messing, or "texting", is a fast and semi-efficient method of one-to-one communications by sending short messages using the keypad on a cellphone.

Online streaming is not on-demand audio or video, but a continuous, non-stop flow of audio or video conducted by a professional media outlet like an FM or AM radio station, television station or news service. Typically, when you arrive at their web site, their online streaming player begins, or the user can decide to play the streaming player, which begins "in progress", with whatever part of the programming content is playing to everyone at that moment.

All of us here have something in common

All about DOGS

Kramer convinces George he's called Moviefone (click link to watch)

Is this an ad for Coldplay or for iTunes...or both? (click link to watch)

Affinity = like-mindedness

The sixth genre of social media is AFFINITY SITES, where people are attracted to that site because of a common interest or activity.

If you're building your business, you may want to find ways to get involved on various affinity sites, but only if you have a genuine interest in the commonality everyone else shares. If you don't, your participation and comments will be obviously phony and superficial almost immediately.

Why affinity sites are addictive

Often, on the best affinity sites, content is so "rich" (plentiful), deep and frequently changing that members can literally spend hours browsing the site, discovering more about that particular interest area, if it's an in which area they are heavily interested, like a hobby, sport or a group in which they're a member. Online shopping clubs are affinity sites which members sometimes find hard to leave.

Something for everyone

There are millions of affinity sites. Some excellent and well-known examples are Moviefone (, Major League Baseball (, the Catholic Church (, a site for dog lovers (, National Football League (, and iTunes (

Social media works!

Many businesspeople have already found that the more they explore the new world of social media, the more they find ways to make more money, more friends and have more fun. And who can argue with that?

I hope this short article helped get you enthusiastic about all the opportunities in front of you. Now, it's your turn..please tell me if you found this info useful, either by posting a comment below, or emailing me directly at

Thanks for taking your first step into social media! Let me know whatcha far.

Tom Zarecki, MBA

(c) Copyright 2009 Thomas R. Zarecki. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Gyanendra Mocktan profile image

      gyanendra mocktan 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for detailed sharing through your article. Ioo'll share it on the facebook too. Thank you again

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      thanks for the interesting stuff! :)

    • profile image 

      12 years ago from San Francisco, CA USA

      This is a really good overview. Thanks!


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