Social media websites try to combine two things: people and content. When these two things work in harmony a website becomes a buzzing, viral experience, where users do the hard work and feel a bond to the brand / platform.
In the past few days I have started planning and wireframing a new community-focused website, to try to develop and launch a useful platform.
Creating such a platform should be reasonably straightforward in this day and age, since there are so many fabulous sites out there that are already doing this well.
Indeed, I found it relatively straightforward to add the kind of tools and functionality I thought a social media site should offer to users. Many of these elements are second nature to us, since we use them everyday (on sites like Twitter, Last.fm, Facebook, Flickr, et al...).
So what are the common elements used by social media websites?
After a weekend of wireframing I thought I’d share some of the things that I have built into the new website.
My site will blend a curated approach with bags of user-generated content, but it needs to be more than that. Participation needs to happen not only at a content level, but also at a network level.
I want to empower users, and to make them really care about the website. The end result should be highly interactive and will update content frequently, which I hope will make for an addictive experience requiring a regular fix.
Here I outline the various elements that add functionality for users, to increase participation (the key to success). You’ll be familiar with all of this, I’m sure, but I still think it is handy to have a cut-out-and-keep checklist.
Not all of these elements have made it onto my wireframes (some of them will be added as we build out the necessary functionality). In any case, you don’t need them all. Nevertheless, this is a kind of smorgasbord of social media functionality from which to select elements from, to boost activity on your website.
Are you ready to feast?
The social media smorgasbord
A few quick points:
- I have loosely grouped elements together under relevant headings, though some items can live under multiple headings.
- Most of these things are self-explanatory, so for the purposes of brevity I have minimised guidance notes.
- This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a top of the head braindump based on many of the sites I use on a daily basis. Please suggest other elements in the comments section. I'm sure I'll have missed a bunch of them.
- Some of these items can’t be labelled as ‘functionality’ (e.g. ‘user profile’), but are nevertheless important and share common elements across the sites I use.
RATE (all types of content can be rated, as can users)
1. Like this
2. Love this
14. Add an item (articles, links, stories, videos, images, etc)
15. Recommend to a friend
16. Auto recommendations – content (‘you might like this’)
17. Network recommendations – users (‘neighbours’, ‘similar profiles’, ‘nearby’)
18. Invite (‘invite a friend to Spotify; you have three invitations left’)
19. Send a message (‘poke’, ‘shout’, or ‘DM’)
20. Status update
21. Recent activity (e.g. news feeds on Facebook, ‘recent activity’ on Last.fm, follower activity in your Twitter feed)
22. Content / product feeds (as distinct from users, because in my case some types of users have ‘products’)
23. #Followers / following / fans / friends
24. #Ratings (#loved / liked)
27. #Items added
28. About / bio
31. Joined on (timestamp)
32. Widgets (‘add this feed to your blog / Facebook')
33. Settings (customisation of visual display, layout, etc)
34. Events ('attending')
35. Content and user grouping / filtering
36. Hide / delete user / content
37. Devices ('upload via mobile')
38. Updates (email / mobile / RSS etc)
39. Third party bookmarking ('Add to delicious', 'ShareThis')
40. Popular / top rated / latest (content / user sorting)
So... what did I miss?
[Image via achichi on Flickr, various rights reserved]