A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Social Media Galaxy
by Joe Cunningham - Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Social media: man’s new invention for making the world a smaller place. Let’s take a quick look at it, shall we?

According to a recent study by We Are Social, more than 26 percent of the world uses some type of social media, which accounts for about 1.8 billion people.  There are hundreds of social media sites but only a handful of well known, highly used networks.

Now that 58 percent of Americans own a smartphone, 60 percent of social media use comes from mobile devices (which accounts for 75 percent of walking-into-a-wall accidents at Destiny USA – I’m only half-joking).  The average American spends 37 minutes a day on social media (that’s more than 225 hours, or 10 days straight per year) – more time than reading emails (unless you are a teenage girl, then it’s probably several months).

SocialMedia-TheCloud-Blue-185175604

People use social media these days for everything from staying connected with old friends and family to finding a job, stalking the girl next door and keeping track of any and every ingenious thing celebrities say on Twitter, including Jessica Biel’s: “I work out every day – Monday to Saturday.”

I thought I would take a moment to showcase the top 13 social media sites out there, in no particular order.

The Top 13 Social Networks and What They’re All About

#1 of course, is Facebook. 

(I know, I said these were in no real order.)

Facebook-IconWhat is it? The most popular social network (Instagram, owned by Facebook, is second with a little more than half the playing time) and the one with the best movie (I don’t remember there being a Twitter movie. The Internship anyone?).  Facebook is where you can see what friends and family are doing without having to read the manual ([cough] Google+) or call them on the phone (because that takes too much effort).

Target Audience
Everybody.  Especially people willing to click those stupid ads in the newsfeeds now.

Distinguishing Characteristics
It’s multi-dimensional.  You can plan a party without sending any invitations.  Your Mom knows how to use it.

Random Fact
Mark Zuckerburg is technically color blind and sees one color more than others – no joke.  Guess which one that is?  (CNN)

What Your Mom Thinks About It
The greatest thing on earth since the sewing machine!

#2 Twitter

(Because I like it.)

twitter-iconWhat is it? Ideas in few words.  Usually there’s a link (read my blog), hashtag (#isntthatfunny) or picture (really?) involved.

Target Audience
People with short attention spans.

Distinguishing Characteristics
You can follow famous people.  It’s fast and easy.  People you don’t know can follow you. #notscaryatall

Random Fact
Starbucks is mentioned 10 times every second.  (Media Bistro)

What Your Mom Thinks About It
I don’t get it.

#3 Google+

google1What is it? A waste of time.

Target Audience
In the words of one of my clients, “No one in their right mind is using Google+.”

Distinguishing Characteristics
Google made it, so they think it’s a big deal.  It’s about as aesthetically pleasing as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Random Fact
I didn’t want to waste my time on this one.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
(She doesn’t.)

#4 LinkedIn

LinkedIn_logoWhat is it? An online resume; a business network; where you go when you’re bored at work.

Target Audience
Anyone sitting behind a desk or who wants to, someday, sit behind a desk.

Distinguishing Characteristics
The only social network where your job title means something and you can find out who is stalking you (“And for only $39.95 a month you can see the whole list …”)

Random Fact
Number of users on LinkedIn: 238 million.
Number of interesting facts about LinkedIn: 0.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
That’s nice, Sweetie.

#5 Klout

(Because we are going in no real order.)

1359962162What is it? A way to boost your ego by figuring out how many people “liked” your selfies across all your social networks (because you couldn’t just count or anything).

Target Audience
Really conceited people (yeah, I’m on there).  Marketing executives trying not to get fired.

Distinguishing Characteristics
They know how to do math, but is Justin Bieber really more influential than Barack Obama?

Random Fact
They think it makes you look sexy.  It really just makes you look more nerdy.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
I can’t believe you just said ‘sexy’ in a newspaper article.

#6 Reddit

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Social Media GalaxyWhat is it? Where guys go to read the news and look at goofy pictures.

Target Audience
Guys.  The nerdier, the better.

Distinguishing Characteristics
You can “up-vote” or “down-vote” things depending on the price of tea in China.  It creates a really objective (organic) sharing of the news.

Random Fact
Owned by Conde Nast Publications, owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr., who bank-rolled the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at S.U.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
Explain that again?

#7 Tumblr

I hate Tumblr.

tumblr-the-graham-academy

 

 

 

 

 

#8 My Space

What’s My Space?

Myspace-Button-psd42143Exactly.

 

 

 

 

#9 Instagram

instagram-iconWhat is it? Facebook, but pictures only (thank God).

Target Audience
Young people.

Distinguishing Characteristics
You can add cool filters to make even the worst photographs look “vintage.”  You can now record video.

Random Fact
Facebook bought it and then everybody started using it.  Everybody knows that.  “But did you know 15 minutes could save you …?”

What Your Mom Thinks About It
How did you do that to your pictures on Facebook?”

#10 Pinterest

What is it? Where women plan the rest of their lives.

Target Audience
Guess.

Distinguishing Characteristics
You can pin pictures from anywhere on the web, but it’s easier just to share what other people have pinned, for about eight hours straight.

Random Fact
In 2012, it became the fourth largest source of traffic to other websites in the world (next to Google, direct traffic and Facebook).

What Your Mom Thinks About It
My daughter uses pin, pin, uh – pin – Pinterest!

#11 YouTube

youtubebuttonWhat is it? Where you can watch anything.  Anything.

Target Audience
The whole world.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Reaches more young adults than any cable network. (Nielsen)

Random Fact
You just missed it.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
My son is a real filmmaker.

#12 Vine

Vine-1.0-for-iOS-app-icon-smallWhat is it? Six-second videos.  Because YouTube videos are too long.  A way for high-schoolers to make obscene porn.

Target Audience
High-schoolers.

Distinguishing Characteristics
It’s Twitter for videos.

Random Fact
Twitter owns it.  It died when Facebook created 15-second videos with filters for Instagram.

What Your Mom Thinks About It
You’re grounded for a year!

#13 Snapchat

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Social Media GalaxyWhat is it? When teenagers realize no one else has to see that.

 

 

 

 

A former Internet Marketing Manager, Joe Cunningham is a screenwriter, playwright and all-around adventurer.  He blogs for Kinani Blue, charms Google at Terakeet and enjoys running through the city.  You can follow him on Twitter at @IndianaJoe77 or he can be reached at indianajoe77@gmail.com.

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