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April 7 , 2009

Insights Part 2: Understanding Social Networking

Top social networking sites and buzzwords every online business should know

Social networking is the process of creating relationships between a user and other people based upon some formal social graph. Social networks can be thought of as communities based upon interest or commonality that use the internet to connect the people of the network, typically including points of presence (avatars), blogs, web forums and microformats.

Last week we introduced you to the first ten social networking terms we thought you should know. With help from O’Reilly Media, here are the next ten terms that will help transform you into a social networking whiz.

A form of blogging involving very short messages (around 140 characters) that can inform people of instantaneous updates of content without creating full blogs. Twitter is perhaps the archetypal microblogging format, though competitors such as Jaiku and Pownce are expanding microblogging with file transfers and event invitations

A form of tagging by adding attributes to HTML elements that provide some underlying metadata about the element. For instance, one form of microformatting would be to add business-card information, such as e-mail addresses or business phone, to a person's name. Microformatting code can then be viewed (or used to perform other actions) with the appropriate software.

News Feed (Syndication Feed)
This is a document that contains both information about the provider of the feed and a collection of entries, each of which provides publishing information about a given blog or similar article, including summary and categorization information. Feeds are the messaging system for Web 2.0, providing enough information to identify newly published content on the Web for news readers and similar specialized applications.

These are specialized forms of a blog post that points to a streaming media file instead of a web page. Podcasts (audio files) take their name from the Apple iPod. Vidcasts or Vlogs are the video equivalent of podcasts.

Twitter gaining in popularity

A report by The Pew research Centre shows that as of December 2008, 11 per cent of online adults were using Twitter or updating their status online, up from 9 per cent the month before. It also concluded that Twitter users are mobile and less tethered by technology.

Twitter users are also significant consumers of blog content; 21% read someone else’s blog “yesterday” and 57% of Twitterers have ever read a blog. By comparison, 9% of those who go online but do not Twitter read someone else’s blog yesterday, and 29% have ever read a blog. Twitter users also keep blogs at a greater rate than the overall online population; 29% of Twitter users have ever created a blog, and 8% worked on a blog “yesterday.” In contrast, 11% of internet users have created a blog and 3% are working on their blog on any given day.

Twitter users are overwhelmingly young. However, unlike the majority of other applications with a similarly large percentage of youth, Twitter use is not dominated by the youngest of young adults. Indeed, the median age of a Twitter user is 31. In comparison, the median age of a MySpace user is 27, Facebook user is 26 and LinkedIn user is 40.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication, RDF Site
Summary, or Rich Site Summary)
One of the earliest syndication feed formats, RSS actually describes a family of different formats, with the most recent being RSS 2.0. An alternate proposal, RDF 1.0,
was pushed by the early blogging community, and laid the foundation for the more recent Atom syndication format.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
This is the process of configuring web content in order to gain the highest potential rankings for a given search engine. While early SEO systems involved simple keyword matches, SEO has evolved considerably, to the level of performing semantic searches on content, optimizing the specific layout of a page to make its terms more indexable, and using complex mathematical algorithms to better match anticipated search engine behaviors.

Short Message Service (SMS)
A microblogging format devised initially for use with cellphones, though its use has expanded to other networks as well. SMS, or text messaging, makes it possible for both person-to-person communication and broadcast (e.g., Twitter-like) communication. The abbreviated texting forms and use of smileys and other letter-graphs have made possible an entire subculture (predominantly of teenagers) communicating without the use of vowels or formal grammar.

A syndication feed for a Web or blogging site contains recent changes (new articles, revisions to existing articles, additional media and so forth) that is read by a syndication client. A syndication client reads the feed
and presents a list of the new and changed articles, frequently with publication information and abstracts,
to the user of the feed, along with links to the actual articles themselves that the user can click on to load
into their syndication viewer.

This is the process of adding categorical information (usually one word or simple two-word phrases) that identifies some aspect of a Web resource. For instance, a picture of a parakeet may include tags for "parakeet," "bird," "photograph," "Tweety" and so forth. Tagging is used both for search engine optimization and for building Web navigation systems, and may either be fixed (the terms in a vocabulary don't change) or dynamic (users
or moderators can add terms to the vocabulary).

This is an Internet protocol for exchanging messages effectively and efficiently. Google's GTalk uses the protocol, as does the Jabber network. Many large Internet sites and services are considering the protocol to meet messaging and notification needs beyond IM.

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