Social Media’s Top 10 – Chawm Ganguly

Social media has revolutionized the way we use the world-wide-web, communicate with each other and generally connect. Before social media, there was all sorts of interesting information in the web, but there was precious little one could do to contribute or participate. Social media, in effect has breathed life into the body of the net.

But why are people so taken to social media? For one, it helps you keep in touch, real-time with those that you care about as they go about the journey of life, living, experiencing and posting. Secondly, it provides access to the facebook of the lives of people and this ability to peep, bordering on voyeurism is what is a huge “turn on” for many. Thirdly, inquisitiveness about how our connections are connected to others is another is another major driving force. Finally, the very ability to post a comment or even to press the button from every corner of the world to let someone know that you care enough to be participating in his / her daily life – sharing the good times and lending support during the bad is what explains the runaway popularity.

Social media, contrary to popular belief is not merely facebook. Here’s a quick run on the top ten platforms (according to me and me alone) with a brief note about each. These are not rankings and certainly not the commandments like the ones delivered on Mount Sinai. Just mere pointers as I see them.

  1. Facebook. It was in 2004 that Mark Zukerberg created the online community for fellow students who could create individual profiles, search others and invite others to join. In 2006 facebook opened its doors to everyone but the real rush began after the application programme interface (API) was created which allowed third party developers to create programmes that could tap into facebook’s massive population. Clever acquisitions like Friendfeed and Instagram have only helped the process go viral.
  2. Twitter. It is a website and a web service combined. People can make profiles, follow others and get followed as they send short messages called tweets to their followers. Tweets are super short (160 characters or less) and have given rise to an entire community with its own culture around it. Presidents to porn stars everybody is on twitter as it allows one to gain access into the lives of the high and the mighty apart from keeping in touch with friends. Being phone savvy, the application has become even more potent, giving rise to a whole generation of micro-bloggers.
  3. Linked-in. It has often been called the facebook for professionals. Some even claim that executives from each of the Fortune 500 companies can be found listed there and professionals who use its full potential can not only network as if it’s going out of style and give a huge fillip to their careers.
  4. You-tube. It is not what a traditional social media site would be. It is a place where people can upload and watch videos. But it really took off (and is currently among the hottest movers) when in 2006 people were allowed to post video comments to posts as opposed to written ones. This in turn has given rise to “Vlogging” (video blogging) where users post videos on subjects of their choice / expertise on which people can comment or share.
  5. Hi-5. Before the facebook domination of the net began,Hi5 was the hippest place to be in. It allows users to create profiles, play games – the works and was extremely popular with the kids. Why it abdicated its space in the US and moved onto less competitive markets is something that baffles me. Fact is, it is still hugely popular in some parts of the globe.
6.Skyrock. It was a blog backed by a popular radio station which gradually morphed into a full feature social networking site. With a gigantic fan following, this French site is known and admired for the way they use space – every inch of it – with news, photos and features. It is also available in other languages, including English.
7.Friendster. It was one of the pioneers in the social networking sites and dates back to, in terms of social media time, the pre historic 2002. The idea was to replicate the way people network in life in the net and was naturally a big thing when it happened. However, inability to ride the wave and the emergence of rivals with benefits made it falter, its initial successes not converted to long term dominance. While the net is for everyone and developers target the borderless netizen, some like are country / culture / people specific. It caters only to the Chinese people and have, like everything Chinese, an army of followers that just keeps on growing.
9.Orkut. It was a Google offering aimed at those wanting to embrace social media. After its initial success it too has somehow petered out but continues to be popular in countries like Brazil and India.
10.Myspace. It was the grand-daddy of them all and allows users to create rich profiles, share music, pictures, videos apart from creating groups to invite others, post blogs – the works. What makes its stand apart in the crowd is its ability to be used as a platform for free advertisement and has been the real platform for innumerable debutants.

While you are at it, you can also check out the other hugely popular sites that are all stretching the horizons of the social media space including Bebo, Zorpia, Netlog, Perfspot, Meetme, Tagged, Printerest, Google + and Badoo.