Help With Social Media Sites

What’s with these icons that lead me to login screens?

These icons let social media site users mark web pages as interesting in one or two clicks.

They’re a trendy way to attract herds of visitors on web sites. The more icons on a web site, the more likely it gets bookmarked looks like a Christmas tree.

Why should I care about social media sites?

First, note that there are three types of social media sites. The first are social bookmarking sites (Delicious is the main one), and let you do just that. The next are social networks (Facebook, Twitter) that let you share your interests with followers — usually acquaintances of yours, but not always. The last could be referred to as social news networks (Digg, Mixx, Reddit).

Social Bookmarking Sites

The main benefit of using a social bookmarking site is that you keep your bookmarks when you switch computers. These sites typically let you organize your bookmarks using keywords (“tags”) rather than category trees. The site then suggests these bookmarks to users with similar interests. And this occasionally leads to residual traffic.

(The resulting cooperative classifications are called folksonomies. Interpretation differences, gossip, lemmings with an agenda, and spammers then invariably ensure that these folksonomies have a low signal to noise ratio. But that’s another story.)

Social Networks

Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter are really blogging platforms with a twist. Some will tell you otherwise, but as far as pushing content online is concerned, there isn’t much difference between a Facebook page and a WordPress blog. Both have their pros and cons. Social networks won’t let you do much beyond delivering information for free. But they’re arguably much more viral.

Social News Networks

Social news networks let you share a web page that caught your interest with hoards of anonymous users. In a sense it’s news by the people for the people, and the hope is that the wisdom of crowds will somehow weed out the more interesting stories. The lucky bookmarks that make it on these sites’ key pages invariably get monster amounts of — notoriously low quality — traffic.

How do I add bookmark icons to my blog?

It’s quite simple if you’re using WordPress:

  • Download the bookmark me plugin
  • Follow the install instructions for each

If you don’t feel like editing WordPress template code, the bookmark me plugin is bundled with Semiologic Pro, and it works out of the box with the Semiologic theme.