Which social media site do you use?

It's a silly question, of course - modern internet users would never confine themselves to just one social platform. Each one excels at something different; for example, we use Facebook to stay in touch with our friends, while Twitter is the best way to keep track of your favourite celebrities. LinkedIn is strictly for business, while Google+ communities are a great way of finding people with the same hobbies as you.

This seems like a pretty good system to us, but the biggest names in social media have other ideas. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus...each one wants to be the social network, and all of them have recently been attempting to expand their horizons and give us everything we could possibly need. Here's how social media moguls seem to be thinking right now:

"If I give them hashtags and trending topics," Mark Zuckerberg reasoned, "they won't need to leave my website to check Twitter! I'll be the King of the Internet!"

This attitude has resulted in a massive online arms race, with everyone plagiarising everyone else's features in a bid to be the one site that really does have everything. It's hard to say whether or not this is a good thing; we are getting some cool new features out of the ongoing social skirmish, but a lot of people liked Twitter (for example) the way it was, and a lot of these changes have gone down like lead balloons.

If you're not entirely sure what we're talking about, here are three features that social media sites have copied from each other recently:

Trends & Hashtags

Who did it first? Twitter, of course - the microblogging site has been utilising hashtags for years. They've been used for serious purposes (like tracking new stories as they develop) and silly purposes (adding a sarcastic bit of commentary to the end of a tweet), but no matter how you use 'em, they'll always be associated with Twitter first and foremost.

Who else is doing it? Pretty much everyone, although Facebook are the most notable plagiarists here. In fairness, everybody was using hashtags in their FB posts anyway, so it's hard to blame ol' Zuckers for appropriating Twitter's big idea; it's much easier to point the finger at him for Facebook's recently-introduced 'Trending' section, which actually goes one better than Twitter's 'Trends' by including a snippet of information about each trending topic.

Handy, although we can only imagine how many people had Game of Thrones spoiled for them by that little white box in the corner.


Cover/Header Photos

Who did it first? Google+ has allowed users to upload cover photos since it launched in 2011. Facebook weren't far behind, rolling out the cover photo in September of the same year. Either way, it certainly wasn't Twitter's idea.

Who else is doing it? Yep, that little blue bird and its evil overlords can take just as good as they give. Roughly one year after Facebook first allowed its users to add cover photos, Twitter starting doing more or less the exact same thing.

More recently, Twitter's layout was radically changed, putting a lot more focus on the cover photo (or 'header photo', as Twitter would have you call it). This was met with a lot of criticism - wasn't Twitter supposed to be about fitting everything into 140 characters? Why the sudden focus on adding images?


Dragging & Dropping

Who did it first? Again, we're pretty sure that Google+ can claim the bragging rights here. A lot of people were reluctant to embrace The Big G's social network when it first materialised online, but if there's one thing that won people over (including the Designer Websites team), it's the site's superbly sleek functionality, epitomised by the way in which you can simply drag images and other items straight into your posts.

Who else is doing it? Almost everybody, although we certainly aren't complaining about this one. You can now drag and drop images into tweets and Facebook updates, just as you can with G+ posts, and it's miles better for everyone (although the functionality is still a little clunky on FB). Now, if only LinkedIn would let us do this as well...

What do you think? Are all social networks too similar nowadays? Should they be sticking to what they each do best? Or are you enjoying all of these changes and new features?

Let us know on Twitter...or Facebook...or Google Plus.

Sova Healthcare screenshots 

Sova Healthcare provide bespoke home care services to elderly and vulnerable individuals in Yorkshire and Leicestershire. With two offices in two separate parts of the country, the company was beginning to outgrow its rather basic website, and that's why Sova got in touch with the Designer Websites team.

We used a number of different strategies to update Sova Healthcare's online presence. The most striking difference between the new site and the old site is the responsive design; given the current trend towards mobile phone usage, most of our recent clients have opted to go responsive, and Sova were no exception. Where the old site was somewhat difficult to navigate on a smaller screen, the new site looks great and functions perfectly on any device, from desktop PCs to smartphones and tablets.

Home care is obviously a sensitive topic for many people, particularly the type of people who are likely to visit the Sova website. With this in mind, we collaborated with Sova to ensure that every element of their new site painted the company as a compassionate and understanding care provider with a wealth of experience. This is reflected in every aspect of the finished website, from the copy to the choice of images.

With streamlined navigation and a friendly, welcoming design, Sova Healthcare's new website will make it as easy as possible for clients to arrange healthcare for their loved ones. If you want to visit the new site, you'll find it at www.sovahealthcare.co.uk.

Liberty site previews

With offices in both Cardiff and London, Liberty Marketing are an award-winning agency with a great track record. They offer a range of digital marketing services, from copywriting and search engine optimisation to social media management and pay-per-click advertising. They've helped hundreds of businesses - large and small - to find their feet online, and their brand new website will surely help them to reach even more clients.

The new Liberty website went live yesterday, and it's another great example of our talent for responsive web design. If you'd like to take a look, the URL is www.libertymarketing.co.uk - here are some of the improvements that we've made:

  • Responsive design for better appearance and functionality on mobile devices
  • Simple, straightforward navigation, making it easy for users to find the service they need
  • Crisp, modern look that stays true to the company's established brand image
  • 'Our Thoughts' section, containing Liberty's latest blogs and social media posts

With mobile internet use increasing all the time, it's now more important than ever to have a responsive website for your business. Click here to request a free, no-obligation quote for your new site.