The battle royale continues. This time, I will be comparing the two most popular “social bookmarking” websites, Twitter and Reddit. By social bookmarking, I mean websites that allow users to share links to other websites. For anyone who has used Twitter and/or visited Reddit, you will know that the two are quite different. Can they really be compared? I will argue that, because they both have their own niche, they ultimately cannot be too closely-compared.
I’ll start with everyone’s favorite: Twitter. With an estimated 250,000,000 unique monthly visitors, Twitter commands an impressive amount of attention. Of course, Twitter rides the lien somewhere between a social networking site and a social bookmarking site, not to mention also a microblogging site. While there are thousands of links posted daily, it is perhaps not the primary function of the website. Instead of producing an easy-to-digest list of popular bookmarks, links circulate within Twitter through known circles and “gatekeepers”, who retweet a bookmark and boost its popularity.
Secondly, we have Reddit. In contrast to Twitter, Reddit is almost solely a social bookmarking website. Although there is certainly a social networking component, it is secondary to the deluge of lolcats pictures and inspirational stories. As opposed to users of Twitter, users of Reddit visit the website specifically for bookmarks. The website is designed to provide a constant stream of new links, all with a bare-bones interface and few frills. It excels at what it does, and if you’re looking for cheap, fast food-style entertainment, Reddit is for you.
As I said in the introduction, I think that these two social bookmarking websites serve fundamentally different roles. However, the sheer mass of Twitter allows it to create a strong presence in many different aspects of social media, and not just the networking or microblogging components. What these two websites have in common is something that binds practically all social media websites together, and that is the love of novelty and instant entertainment. The “feed” format of these two websites ensures that a user will always have a fresh stream of data to digest and quickly discard. The gratification gained from clicking a new bookmark is a tried-and-true method to enticing users.