I am not typically someone who jumps on board with new social media. However, I did recently join up with Sulia, which is a fairly new player on the scene, and I think it has some cool features that make it worth talking about. It’s not perfect, and I’ll share what I’d love to see change about it, but either way I think it may be worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it.
Before we get into it, I want to offer the full disclosure that I get paid a very, very modest fee for referrals to the site because I was hired as a Crochet Expert there. My opinions here are in no way affected by this fee. If you are bothered by this and want to make sure that you give me zero referral income to check it out just go ahead and Google Sulia and you’ll find it on your own. Okay, now that that’s out of the way …
Sulia May Beat the Alternatives
I think now is a good time to explain that I don’t really love social media and I’ve yet to find a social site that is so useful that I fall all over myself to use it. I use social media because it serves a very, very important function in today’s world and meets certain needs for me both as an online writer and in my social life. I don’t think it’s a bad thing and do think it offers some great things in today’s society. It’s where people are and therefore it’s where I am. In some ways, I’ve come to like some things about it. I certainly don’t have a better alternative to meet those same needs.
But, it’s kind of a necessary evil to me in a lot of ways. It took me a long time to get on board with it. I only finally got active with Facebook pages recently (see that story here) because I’ve just never really liked Facebook. What I’m liking so far about Sulia is that it incorporates a lot of the features from different social sites into one option. We’re going to take a closer look at that but first let’s talk about the basics of how Sulia works:
How to Use Sulia to Share
Briefly, the way that Sulia works is that you add a bookmarklet (similar to the one from Pinterest or Twylah) to your browser bar. When you see a post you want to share, you hit your bookmarklet. A Sulia page opens up that features four key parts:
- Headline. This is where you either use the headline of the post you’re sharing or write your own catchy headline. It can be up to 115 characters and includes a shortened link to the full article.
- Body of the post. In this spot you can write up to 2500 characters explaining what the post is all about. If you wanted to, you could highlight a portion of the text on the original page before hitting your bookmarklet and that part would show up here (Pinterest style) so you don’t have to be original if you don’t wish to.
- Image. You can add a link to an image or video here or you can upload a file from your own page.
- Option to post to Twitter, Facebook or send the link in an email to your Sulia followers.
Sulia Combines the Best of Many Social Sites
As I said, what I like about Sulia is that it combines some great traits from other social sites. Examples:
- Like Pinterest … Sulia is visual. Although adding an image isn’t required, most people do so and what you get is a visual treat when you visit a channel here.
- Like Pinterest … Sulia’s channels are like Pinterest community boards. You add your posts to categories and these categories aggregate everything around a specific topic. Unlike Pinterest, you don’t have a million individual boards for one topic, which I am happy about. I like how Pinterest lets us create our own unique inspiration boards but in terms of browsing as a community member I would rather see everything in one place and I like how Sulia’s channels offer that. Note: this is also similar, in a way, to the new G+ communities.
- Like Facebook … You can comment and “like”. You can comment on other people’s posts here. You can hit the “like” button to show that you like a post. This is also similar to the like option on Pinterest, the favorite on Twitter and the +1 on G+.
- Like Twitter … It’s short and sweet. That headline, which is the required part, is only 115 characters. What I love is that you can then go ahead and add the optional body. This allow you to actually say more than you can on Twitter but readers can get the gist first from your headline to see if that “more” interests them.
- Like all, you can follow people you like. You can also follow the channels that you like. So, for example, you can follow all of my posts across various topics and you can also follow the Knitting and Crochet channel, where I post frequently but so do lots of other people.
In summary, Sulia is a visual-based social media site that allows you to find, comment on and share items of interest organized by channels based on topic.
Sulia as a Reader
Before I get into the things I’d like to see improved on Sulia, let me tell you more about what it’s like as a reader or content consumer on the site. When I visit the Sulia home page, it looks like this:
The core content here is the posts of everyone I individually follow on the left and featured (or popular) posts from what I follow on the left. You’ll notice next to where it says “following” at the top are some specific categories. I’ve marked these as my favorites and so I can click on those tabs and get the latest live, featured and popular posts from each specific channel that I follow. Up top I could select categories from the “suggested” option or search for a channel on a specific topic that interests me.
If you scroll down on any channel you’ll come to a leaderboard section that shares the most followed, most posts, most views and most engagements on that channel in the past seven days. This is a way to find some of the top people posting in a specific area. As you can see from the image, I’m currently super active in the knitting and crochet channel, as are Mercedes T. Clark, Amy O’Neill Houck and Paula Moliver. If you’re trying to get a sense of who the experts are in a niche, this is one place to start. You could go to their individual profiles to see all of the different things they’d posted recently and get a sense of what they’re currently most interested in.
Some Sulia Cons
Here are some of the things I’m not in love with about Sulia at the current time. I want to say thiss first, though: This is a new site and they’ve been adapting rapidly. They take feedback from people and really incorporate it so what I’m saying today may be moot tomorrow. For example, when I first started posting just a month or two ago the only “image” option was to add a URL and now you can add video links as well as direct uploads.
Okay, so here are some things that I personally don’t love:
- There have been some tech issues with links. Let me explain – when I post something to Sulia I then share that post to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Many people have complained on Facebook that they can’t access those links, Sulia causes their browsers to crash, etc. A few notes – Sulia is aware of the problem and it seems like these complaints have been fewer in recent weeks. Additionally, as far as I can tell it’s only affected a small portion of my readers. It seems to have particularly affected people using certain browsers on mobile devices. And finally, there are a lot of working parts involved here – Sulia is getting information from a blog post and then trying to share that information with Facebook … as a blogger I know that at any given time a number of things can happen when sites are trying to communicate with each other.
- The site sends a lot of email notices. For example, every time someone follows me I get an email about that. There are only certain types of notices that you can opt out of. I’d like to be able to opt out of everything and get just what I want.
- Sometimes people post to incorrect categories. I do not see this a lot. It really is rare. But if the site were to get more popular then I’d guess it would happen more. I would love to see some kind of option to “flag” inappropriate categorizing or spammy posts through the community like you can with Twitter.
I reserve the right to change my opinion on any of these things. When I first started using the site, for example, I felt like it was visually disorienting and disorganized and now I’ve completely changed my mind even though nothing changed on the site. I’m just a super wordy person and not very visual and it took time for me to adjust and get used to how this site is laid out but I actually really enjoy it now. This is a review and like any review it’s just one person’s opinion so take it with a grain of salt and make up your mind for yourself!
I Wish Sulia Were a Destination Site
My biggest complaint about Sulia at this point is something that Sulia can’t do anything about, only users can, and that’s that I wish Sulia were big enough to be a destination site rather than just a middleman between content and Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Now obviously, the actual destination is the blog post that the site links to (the point of social sharing, after all). But what I mean is that I wish it weren’t necessary for me to post to Sulia and then share that with my Twitter followers to get them to my Sulia account and then to the content. I wish that enough people were using Sulia that I could simply post to Sulia, not share that post elsewhere and get people to the content that way. I like Sulia. I like the format, I like the features it incorporates from other sites and I’d like to see it used that way. But, if it ever becomes that, it’s something that will take time.