What Are Content-Sharing Social Networks?

Check out these 3 networks if you are looking to build an online community but also want content to play a big role.

Aliza Sherman
December 31, 2009
Episode #084

So many social networks. So little time. And so much content that you want to publish and share. Facebook and Twitter aren't very good platforms for publishing and sharing a lot of content. So where can you go?

What's a Content-Sharing Network?

Before I discuss four different social networks where you can publish and share your content, let's first review what usually makes a website a social network:

  • You can create your own profile.

  • You can connect with others as contacts, friends, fans, followers, or subscribers.

  • You can publicly or privately publish status updates or other types of content.

  • You can hold discussions in forums.

Now think of Facebook and MySpace as examples of social networks. Each lets you create a profile, connect with others, publish status updates and blog posts (on Facebook they're called Notes) and have discussions in forums or groups.

Online communities are formed around shared interests and specific topics, and if you produce a lot of content, you may benefit from building a presence on a content-driven social network to build your profile, gain fans and followers, and increase your appearance on search engines.

What are Some Content-Driving Social Networks?

There are social networks that are based specifically around content. All of the ones I'll mention here have most of the key elements of social networks--although some may not have discussion forums. Here they are:


Although Gather's tagline is “Meet People and Make New Friends,” the basis of interaction on Gather often starts with the content you publish--articles, videos, and images. The nice thing about Gather is that you can produce a more content-rich presence for yourself or your company. You can access communities and discussions and make contact with others through the content you publish, as well as the content published by friends, to groups, and based on your interests.

As an example, I access content and discussions based on interests such as blogging, social media, podcasting, writing, and filmmaking. I also belong to groups called Poets and Writers; Documentary Film; Women Wise; and Manic Mommies.

Though I haven't actively used Gather lately, I still have content there. I did leave the community a while ago because people I was connected to were publishing massive amounts of content daily, and it felt a little like spam. However, setting up your connections with care can eliminate that intrusion; but make sure you aren't guilty of doing the same to others. Publish thoughtfully.


You can organize, share, and discover information around your interests at Twine.com. A “twine” is basically a repository of information based around a specific topic. There are Twines for iPhone users, the media, bloggers, social networkers, social media consultants, and so much more--such as food, photography, business, travel, you name it. Twines are made up of a combination of articles that you write, but can also consist of content you aggregate from other sources, including websites and blogs.

You can add the Twine bookmarklet button to your Web browser bar and click on it when you see an article of interest relating to one of the Twines you've created or joined. You can then easily share the article in the Twine to all of the people subscribed to it.

You can allow others to post content to the Twines you create and by doing so, you’ll have a content-driven community.

I belong to a Second Life Twine, and I contribute content there--either my own or content I find online. My personal Twine is a way for me to aggregate all of the disparate content I create, including these podcasts and my many blog posts. Of course, you need to be diligent about adding your content to your Twines to keep them active and useful.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for any of the Twines you create or join, which acts like a topic-specific news and information aggregator. Twine also has Twitter integration so what you post to Twine can be easily tweeted to your Twitter account.


Personally, I don't like PowerPoint, and I'm not fond of slide presentations when I'm forced to use them, however, I love going through other people's slides when they execute them well. Slideshare lets you upload your slides, peruse other people's public slides, and then connect with members based on, well, their slide presentations and the content of their slides. Like any other content-based community, it is what the person publishes--in this case slides--that helps you form connections.

You can also create Groups on Slideshare around particular topics and then aggregate slide presentations in those Groups. You can leave comments on and rate, or “favorite,” other people's slide presentations as well.


On Squidoo you can publish overviews of any topic. The site calls these published overviews “lenses,” and when you create a lens, you can earn royalties on your published work. Your lens can include not only your content but complementary content, such as related books via an Amazon.com module. You can also share your lenses via social media sites such as Twitter, StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Facebook.

For community discussion, you can join SquidU where you can have conversations with other “lensmasters.” Or connect with other lensmasters whose content you like by joining their Fan Club or you can “favorite” other people's lenses to stay in touch with them that way. You can also include a comments module on your own lens to allow the community to post messages to you and about your content.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today.

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Gather -  http://www.gather.com
Aliza's Gather Profile - http://www.gather.com/alizasherman
Squidoo -  http://www.squidoo.com
SquidU -  http://www.squidU.com
Example of Lens -  http://www.squidoo.com/pr101
Aliza's Squidoo Profile - http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/alizasherman
Twine -  http://www.twine.com
Aliza's Twine - http://www.twine.com/user/alizasherman
Slideshare -  http://www.slideshare.net
Aliza's Slideshare - http://www.slideshare.net/alizasherman

Social Media image courtesy of Shutterstock