A simple share button is all it takes

As a Web Developer I am fascinated with social media as I have seen it slowly creep up in dominance in the past decade. I learned how to develop Web pages using basic HTML markup back when Geocities was the only form of a public social site commonly used. I learned how to code by manipulating templates for message boards running forum softwares like phpBB and SMF.

Then this new site I didn’t really understand became popular – MySpace. I learned the concept of the site being for networking with others, and CSS was an easy way (for coders)/maybe not so easy way (for others) to customize your profile page on the network site. So I studied Cascading Style Sheets and learned how to do just that. But I just never took to the idea of Social Networking. MySpace was more of a cluster than anything to me at the time. Or maybe the new idea was just too new for me to jump on board.

A decade later, dozens of social sites later, and I’m well aware of the fact that social networking (or social media as we prefer to call it now) is by no means a fad. It’s going to be the lifeblood for interacting online through Web sites. Like the way search engines understand links to be a sign of relevance from one site to another, social sharing adds a bit more context to the interaction between links. The advent of ‘Liking’ something as not a feeling but rather a critical function (or more exactly a standardized script with a specific purpose of expressing the approval of something), will most definitely be a key metric to better mining through an almost seemingly infinite pile of data that never stops growing with time.

As online data continues to balloon more and more with time, the concept of living in an information age is no longer just words we say to each other, but now we start to realize just how vital information is to our daily lives. Google is a pioneer of this idea. For some of us lucky enough to have smart phones, it’s our breakfast, newspaper, and so much more, day in and day out. And social data is the new economy of this world.

You see, 2 years ago I took a job as an SEO in-training and forced myself to switch seats from a developer to an optimizer. Learning how search engines interpret a site is key to my perspective of social media today. There are quite a few prominent players in the social spectrum online now. Here are the distinguishing 2 factors as I see them between those I am aware of or use frequently – sites that share openly with other sites by design (or allow a plugin to share with others), and sites that do not openly share data with other sites.

For me, this is a key determiner for the future of the site (not in the next decade, but thinking further out). Everything you do on these sites, and as for whether or not a simple share button is a part of what it is you do with the site, says for how everlasting your content will be. Now I’m sure someone will create an API for working around this issue, but essentially what I mean to emphasize is that the share button in all it’s glory accomplishes one simple task and does it well – it gives anyone now or whenever in the foreseeable future the ability to take your content and recreate it, link to it, add to it, or in some way somehow highlight or make reference to whatever it is you are posting about – and here’s the key: it does it in the click of a button.

Certain sites I think are taking advantage of their position and timing in the story that is unfolding, known as social media. More specifically, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the now re-imagined MySpace – all of which offer great user experience within their own ecosystem, but have intentionally woven into their designs to not easily copy your content on their site to other social sites (thereby trapping your data with them). This is known as a walled garden. Apple is famous for this with their Mac operating system. But that’s a different geek lecture pertaining to this old, antiquated thing I’m sure none of you have heard about in the digital native future. We call them personal computers, and most of them come in the form of a bulky desktop that just sits on a desk and it’s not light enough to pick up and take with you wherever you go. Imagine that, right?

So anyways, I just want to highlight the sites I’m aware of that are popular right now and are open to sharing with others (as good friends do), whom I believe are the beginning of what will become the dominant kind of social networking and hopefully it will be so heavily abused in the future we do not even notice it anymore.

Social sites (I am aware of) that allow to easily share content with other Social sites:

Blogger,

YouTube,

WordPress,

Reddit,

Vimeo,

Tumblr,

Meetup,

Pinterest

If you know of any sites that offer a simple share button as a part of their default design, please feel free to add them to my list. Let’s spotlight sites that plug in to one another, and ignore those that want to create systems that try to own our data.