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Know Your Social Networks

The number and variety of social networking channels and platforms changes constantly. Here is an introduction to the most popular social sites. And while no one can really say what the future of Facebook or Twitter or Foursquare will be in the next two or five or ten years, it does seem clear that the idea behind social media and Web 2.0 — that people will use the Web not just to find information but to form and sustain relationships — is not going away.

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Facebook

In one sentence: Currently the largest and most influential social network, Facebook allows its users to create relationships with one another that would be difficult if not impossible to create or maintain otherwise.

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Twitter

In one sentence: In 140 characters or less, Twitter allows its users to send mass instant messages to their followers and to the world in general.

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter is not just about sharing what you had for lunch; it is a robust community that binds people of similar interests, a source many trust for the latest news and as an ongoing professional development tool.

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YouTube

In one sentence: YouTube is the dominant video-sharing site on the Web. Forty-eight hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Users can subscribe to their favorite channels, leave comments on individual videos, and even post their own video responses.

Flickr

In one sentence: Flickr is one of the leading photo sharing sites on the Web. Much like YouTube, posting photos to Flickr makes it easier for others to embed those photos on their websites.

Google+

In one sentence: Launched in August 2011, Google+ is the new kid on the social media block, and is Google's latest foray in the social space. Beginning in November of 2011, institutions like universities could create a Google+ profile. The University of Rochester currently does not have an institutional Google+ page, but like all things in the realm of social media, change is a constant, and another reason why it is important to think first about what your goals are before deciding whether or not to participate in a particular platform or channel.

Geosocial networks

In one sentence: The fast-growing geosocial or location-based media are platforms where users can interact with the spaces around them and other users (sometimes in a social gaming platform) using their smartphones. The largest entity, Foursquare, boasts more than 10 million users, who check into various locations and share information, tips, photos and more with potential users of those spaces.

Blogs

In one sentence: A blog is a regularly maintained web-based journal that is interactive through allowing readers to post comments.

Many blogging platforms exist for bloggers. Wordpress, Tumblr and Posterous among the most popular right now. The University hosts Wordpress blogs at http://blogs.rochester.edu. The Office of Admissions hosts student blogs at http://enrollment.rochester.edu/eblog/.