15 Categories of Social Media

The most popular social media question is:  "Where do I start with social media if I want to use it for my business?"  The very first step is to understand the entire social media landscape before jumping on the bandwagon.  This is paramount if you want to succeed with using social media for your business!

The social web consists of many categories and is not just about social networking.  I have created the below diagram to help you understand the types of social media categories.  The categories you decide to use for your business will depend on your business goals and what you are trying to achieve with social media.

Of course, there is a cross between many of these categories.  For example, I placed Twitter under micro-blogging, but it also belongs under social networking; I placed Facebook under social networking but it is also the largest photo-sharing site.

The key to success with social media is to not put your eggs in one basket.  Once you have a clear understanding of the social web, the next step is know how to integrate some or all these categories together so you can leverage and maximize your efforts with social media.

Please note, in this diagram I am giving a comprehensive look at the categories of social media.  The tools in each category are only an example.  There are literally thousands of tools out there that would fall into each category and would not be possible to fit into a single diagram.  Please feel free to add tools that you think belong under specific categories in the comment section below.

The logos and images shown are trademarks of each site.  Let's hope the sites don't mind that I borrowed them! 🙂

Social Media Landscape Image
Social Media Landscape Image
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  • Mirna,

    You're the first person of whom I'm aware that has pulled it all together to depict in one diagram the massively interconnected--and growing--Social Web. It may be almost as complicated as a Space Shuttle diagram, but it reflects what is going on in Cyberspace. You should trademark it 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this and your invaluable tips and advice.

  • This is excellent snapshot!! I can blog about this Mirna?

  • Great diagram and good to see it again. Saw it first time at your NAWBO presentation last week. Good categorizations. You're talented. 😀

  • Thanks everyone! I hope you found it helpful! Jim, the trademark is a good idea and something to think about...

  • Thanks Mirna for the comment on my blog today and love the diagram. Cheers Jeff

  • Thank you for the comment Jeff! I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more blog posts 🙂

  • Hi Mirna:

    This is an awesome tool. Social media can be confusing and scary. There are sooo many options. And, knowing which options align with a particular business can be trick, especially if it is constantly changing and hard to predict.

    Thank you for sharing this model.


  • Thank you Mirna for your this fantastic diagram. It is important people truly understand that social media is not just Facebook and Twitter.


  • this is really true social media land scape is very huge. but this is really very good short and sweet part..

  • Deepak Chawla

    This is awesome as it really draws a line and explains the concept of Social Media. Thanks Mirna

  • Mirna,

    Very nice work showing the multiple channels of social media.

    It's amazing how effective a graphic like this can be to convey how to start to develop strategies for an interconnected social media campaign.

    Ken Vernon

  • Thanks again for the great comments everyone! This diagram is my baby and think it is a great reminder that social media encompasses so many categories that we should not be neglected in our business. I hope you all will refer back to it as you put your social media strategies together...

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this!

    I will definitely refer to this diagram especially to explain to my clients how social media marketing works!


  • rita turkowski

    Amazing diagram, shows tons of great research.
    Several comments I hope helps:
    I would add Scribd to publishing where you have slideshare and I would (tentatively?) say Facebook can now be shown under gaming as well. Social Media gaming is huge, as witnessed by the packed sessions at the Game Developer Conference in SF this past week. I might also put Unity3D under Virtual Worlds...

  • Hey, Mirna... thanks for the efforts. This is great. May I use it in an informal overview of Social Media that I'm giving in April? It'd be a concise, easy-to-use general view of all there is to offer in this growing field.

    Deb Ward

  • Hi Mirna,
    The chart you have shown here is fantastic. You have classified very well. This will help me to understand about what to cater for different clients. I work in digital marketing and I am online marketing guru also.
    Believe me this chart made my work very simple. Thanks for your hard work.

  • Hi Rita! Thanks for your comment. This chart was meant just to show the categories of social media and a few examples of the tools. It is impossible to include all the tools for each category since there are hundreds and thousands. But yes you are right, as mentioned in my post above there is cross between categories.

    Deb, please go ahead and use it...no need to ask 🙂 I posted it so everyone can share with others!

  • rita turkowski

    Awesome resource Mirna, thanks for the content and reply. I will credit your image if I use your "wheel of social fortune" 😉 here!

  • Hi Mirna
    Great diagram - I would love to refer to this article in my blogging - just to let you know I am getting a Threat Blocked message from my AVG software when opening your blog.

    Looking forward to your newsletter


  • Thanks for shairng Image is really useful.But should we start all the social networks at once or try them one bu one or in groups?waiting for your reply Mirna

  • Mirna, lot of great effort put into pulling this together. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you a wonderful week.

    Dr. Clark
    PS 63:7

  • Hi Muhammad, I responded to you on LinkedIn. No you should not try to do everything at once. This will cause overwhelm. You have to evaluate what makes the best sense for your business and start with a couple first.

  • Yan

    Great post! I re-blogged it 😉

  • Mirna,
    This is an amazing and so relevant image. Thank you for posting and letting us know we can use it. I'll definitely be sharing this!

    I'm curious to know if you would group any specific industries under one or more categories. It would be interesting to see if there is a direct trend that's relevant.

    LUV Rita's comment "Wheel of Social Fortune"

  • Thanks for re-blogging Yan! Hi Catherine! No, you would not put any specific industry or industries under one category...every company has different objectives and what they choose should be based on those objectives. It should not be on-size-fits all approach with social media, and being a copy cat does not result in success. It is important to be innovative and creative!

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  • Deborah Gibbs

    Mirna, in which category would you place Yelp and Foursquare?

    • Hello Deborah,

      That is a great question! As mentioned in my post, there will be tools that fit into different categories. Yelp/Foursquare are definitely in that category.

      When Yelp first launched, it was more like a directory to find local businesses, so it did belong under local search and it still does to some degree; however, I think it also has evolved into a social network as well since it is built around the entire notion of community. I have also heard some experts refer to it as an aggregator since it is a collection of reviews in one place, but I don’t know if I completely agree with that opinion.

      For me, Foursquare is more of a mobile/gaming application, but some may disagree with me. Foursquare considers itself as a cross between FriendFeed, a city-guide, and a game.

      How a business decides to use these tools will most likely determine what categories they fit into.

      Please let me know if this helps you.

  • That diagram is like monster level good! Thanks. Don't suppose I could use it in my upcoming social media book?

  • Hello Robert,

    If I get the credit, of course you can you use it :). What is your social media book about?

  • Thank you for the great diagram. I was recently trying to explain to a customer the magnitude of social media and this chart would have been perfect.

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  • Mirna, I noticed you tweeted the link to this post again today. I like the categories you have for social media, but the opening of the blog post, along with a tweetup chat I participated in this morning reminded me of something I've been meaning to blog about. I find too many businesses, especially small businesses, get into social media because it's there and "free" and not because it is going to meet any goal or objective for them. It probably could, but they don't think that through so they have no strategy in mind, thus they don't succeed in their social media efforts.
    I try to educate businesses to think in terms of "Could social media help my business achieve our goals or objectives?" For most companies, the answer is yes, but sometimes, it is a no. Rare, but still a no; maybe due to other business factors or resource issues, etc.
    Here is a link to my post. I'd love to hear your response. http://idiomstrategies.com/Idiomatic/archives/351

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  • I searched many blogs and here i found what i was looking for, thanks for valuable post

  • I want to start blogging too what do you think, which blog platform is good for beginner?

  • Mirna, this is an awesome tool. Thank you for sharing. I will be sharing it with others as well. So many businesses "jump" into social media without a strategy or defined goals. Then are disappointed when things don't go the way they expect. Then again, if there is no strategy, how can they measure success?

  • Jacqueline,

    That has been the problem. Failing to have a plan is planning to fail. May blame social media being a waste of time, but the true time waster is lack of planning. I am glad you liked the diagram, and thanks for sharing.

  • have already been following your blog for three days. really like what you posted. btw i am conducting a research concerning this issue. do you happen to know other sites or forums that I can get more info? many thanks.

  • Social Media is a notoriously difficult area to define, much less categorize. I applaud your efforts to make distinctions that may help others make more sense of a rapidly expanding realm.

    FWIW, I was reminded of a post a few years ago by Robert Scoble on the social media starfish, which has a similar look and feel, but a smaller number of categories, and, as it was posted over three years ago, some of the examples are different.

    Among the similarities in your respective categorizations: microblogs, blogs, personal social networks, videos, photos, audio. One of the categories he included I don't see in your diagram is events (e.g., eventful). One of the categories you include that he omitted - which I find particularly interesting, given his proclivities - is livecasting (!).

    I don't think it is possible for anyone to come up with a comprehensive categorization in a field that is moving so fast, but it is helpful to see how people are thinking about it.

  • Hi Joe,

    Yes given how fast the industry is changing, it is impossible to come up with something too comprehensive. This was really mean to give people a very broad picture and make them aware that social media is not about Twitter and Facebook. Very good point about Eventful. Thank you for your insights.

  • It boggles the mind to think of all the platforms that are available.....is there were some way to analyze by topic which one has the most users focused on that topic... searching for "widget A", then results in percentages on how many people talk about or look for widget A on each social network... though each network would have to open up their data as twitter has to google...

  • Interesting stuff and it's interesting how social media has grown