In introducing social media sites and tools to business people, I’ve found it helpful to group sites into categories based on what they do best and how a business or organization might find them useful.
Here are the categories I use, and the strengths I see in each:
Blogs and podcasts primarily value passion and interestingness. For business, they are most useful for thought leadership, feedback, site quality/search result ranking.
Group networks (like BlogHer) primarily value community and discussion. For business, they are most useful for understanding or targeting a community or market segment.
Social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) primarily value connections and newness/freshness of information. For business, they are most useful for targeting and cultivating community, and for conveying humanness.
Media networks (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa) primarily value popularity, interestingness, and availability of content. For business, they are most useful for distributing content to an interested audience.
Bookmarking sites (Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon) value popularity/change in popularity and archiving. For business they are most useful for trend-spotting and news-spotting, curation/edition/thoughtleadership, and knowledge-sharing within a group or organization.
Twitter (which I put in its own category) values freshness/speed and linking over depth. For business, it is most useful for capturing and responding to feedback, and for communicating one-to-one.
Categories are useful but also controversial: Each person sees things in different ways and places emphasis according to his personal world view. I’m pretty sure that categories are second only to ranked lists in creating flame wars.
But a little controversy keeps things lively, don’t you think?
Do these groupings match how you see the social media landscape? What groups have I missed? What strengths or weakness did I leave out? How do you explain this online world?