Which social network is best?

Over on Google+ I was reading a conversation about photography and how such and such network is better than this one, or that network is better than the other.

Sunday, 25th September 2016, 9:51 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:35 am
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

I really should give you a bit of background to explain why the conversation started. A few years ago Google+ was very popular with photographers. It was amazing for displaying photos, both individually and as part of albums and it had a truly comprehensive suite of editing tools for photos too. Then more recently (although some time ago now) Google decided to spin out Photos as a separate product.

This decoupling of what some saw as a core feature of Google+ caused a lot of consternation and the requests for reintegration are still coming thick and fast from all corners. Hence the conversation about photography. This is despite Google Photos being successful in its own right and also being a good product too.

The interesting thing about all this, is that there is a debate. People cannot agree. Some think that Google+ is still the best place for sharing photos, while others think that place is Facebook, or Instagram, or some other site previously unknown to the universe.

The same can be said for any subset of the population. Whatever your passion, you will find people saying “Oh, you must use Twitter, it’s the best place ever for sharing things”, or “Don’t use Twitter, a study shows that people don’t click the links you share”. You will also find people saying, “LinkedIn is the best. It is really good for engagement” at the same time as “LinkedIn is really bad for engagement. It’s full of spam!” Then there is “Pinterest is the best. It’s great for discovery” and “I tried Pinterest, but you cannot have a real conversation on there.”

The problem is that each of the social networks are functionally similar. There are of course differences in the way they do things, but it is pretty much a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Obviously if a network appears broken for whatever reason, that will have an impact, but the majority of the time it really is down to personal taste.

When it comes down to personal taste, I have found two things that affect whether you like a social media website. The first and most obvious is the design. Is the site easy to use? Does it look nice or make my eyes bleed? Does it actually do what I want it to do? These are all important questions and they do colour your perception.

However, the most important factor when it comes to personal taste are the people. Who you know and what they share on a social network are a make or break deal in my opinion. Your family and friends, colleagues, celebrities and brands that you follow make the real difference. The design is just window dressing at the end of the day.

Don’t take my word for it though, as that isn’t the point of this piece. Go out and make your own mind up about which social network is best for you.