This section provides an overview of social media platforms classified by purpose and function. 27

While each social media platform originally served a specific purpose, numerous platforms have expanded their functionalities, encompassing multiple uses. For instance, Instagram, initially intended solely for picture sharing, has evolved to accommodate video uploads, and is frequently employed for video and text-based microblogging. The following list provides an overview of the current social media platforms and their intended main applications. 

A. Social Networking
1. Definition: Using websites and applications to communicate informally with others, find people, and share similar interests

  • Allows users to directly connect with one another through groups, networks, and location

2. Examples: Facebook and LinkedIn

Facebook Logo    LinkedIn Icon

B. Microblogging
1. Definition: Posting of very short entries or updates on a social networking site

  • Allows users to subscribe to other users' content, send direct messages, and reply publicly
  • Allows users to create and share hashtags to share content about related subjects

2. Examples: Twitter and Tumblr

Tumblr Icon    Twitter Icon

3. Additional tool for managing microblogging: TweetDeck

  • Tweetdeck downloadable desktop application made exclusively for Twitter, allows for the organization of tweets through "customizable columns, multiple accounts toggling, scheduling, and automatically refreshing feeds".28 TweetDeck relies on column-based interface that allows all social media profiles to be viewed in one window. This beginner's guide to TweetDeck detials how to set-up and customize TweetDeck features to your agency's needs.

C. Blogging (Using Publishing Websites)
1. Definition: Recording opinions, stories, articles, and links to other websites on a personal website

2. Examples: Wordpress and Blogger

Wordpress Icon     Blogger Icon


D. Photo Sharing
1. Definition: Publishing a user's digital photos, enabling the user to share photos with others either publicly or privately

2: Examples: Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat and Pinterest

Instagram Icon     Flickr Icon     Snapchat Icon     Pinterest Icon

E. Video Sharing
1. Definition: Publishing a user's digital photos, enabling the user to share photos with others either publicly or privately

  • Allows users to embed media in a blog or Facebook post, or link media to a tweet

2. Examples: YouTube, Vimeo, and Tik Tok

YouTube     Vimeo Icon    

F. Crowdsourcing
1. Definition: Obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, particularly those from the online community

2. Examples: Ushahidi, Inc.


For more information on crowdsourcing, view the Digital Humanitarians TED Talk on the use of time-critical crowdsourcing to verify social media for disaster response. 29 To view the FEMA mobile application called "Disaster Reporter," which includes a crowdsourcing component, click here.30


G. Tools for Managing Multiple Social Media Platforms
1. Definition: An aggregator is a tool tht can be used to "aggregate social media site feeds in one spot, allowing users to search by keywords."31

2. Examples: Hootsuite

Hootsuite Icon

HootSuite supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, and more. It has a browser-based interface that allows social media profiles to be viewed in tabs, rather than all in one window. It has the ability to filter messages, schedule posts, and manage messages through multiple platforms, as well as provide custom analytics.32

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27 FEMA, IS-42: Social Media in Emergency Management, Lesson 2.

28 Cetin, M. (2013, November 7). The Beginner's Guide to TweetDeck. Retrieved from

29 Meier, P. (2013, July 21). TEDx: Using Crowdsourcing to Verify Social Media for Disaster Response | iRevolution. Retrieved from

30 Kuriakose, D. (2013, July 29). FEMA App Adds Crowdsourcing for Disaster Relief. Retrieved from

31 FEMA. (2013, June 18). IS-42: Social Media in Emergency Management, Lesson 2: Monitoring and Aggregating Sites. Retrieved from

32 HootSuite Website. (n.d.) Retrieved from