Give the Gift of Social Media: How You Can Indulge Your Friends This Christmas

Social media has blown up in 2010 more than in any previous year. As people look for Christmas gifts that really encapsulate the year that is coming to a close, social media should be at the top of any list. Social media is a concept, usually something that people sign up for themselves. But this holiday season, there are plenty of ways to gift social media — and here’s how.

First off, there are social media sites that are built for buying things already. GroupOn and LivingSocial are two great group buying sites that allow you to receive special deals in cities if enough people sign up. Since group buying sites like these are tailored to specific cities, you can easily give friends across the country gift certificates and vouchers that they can use in local restaurants, hair salons, clothing stores, etc. In addition, a lot of social coupon sites have a charitable slant now. CauseOn, a site that donates a cut of its profits to a charity of the user’s choice. This way, you can not only save money and give your friend or family member a great voucher, but also be able to tell them that their gift has a little extra meaning.

You can also gift social media in more abstract ways. Design a custom layout or theme for your friend’s Twitter or Tumblr page. As people become more and more adept at the basic utility of these social media sites, design is going to become more prominent as users get creative and try to present themselves effectively on the web. So if you’re handy with design — or know someone who is — a customized background for a friend could be a great gift.

Another way to give social media to someone is to give them a hard copy keepsake of what they have online. The new Facebook friendship pages, for example, are meant to provide a visualization of the friendship between two people, complete with photos, wall posts, videos, comments, etc. Of course it’s easy to just click your mouse and see the page immediately online, but a printed out, scrapbook version of a Facebook friendship could be a fun spin on the idea. Leave pages in the scrapbook open for your friend or family member to fill in in the future — since friendship pages constantly change with any update in your virtual lives, your friend will have plenty of material to work with in the future.

You can also just give the gift of social media by motivating your friends to sign up for Twitter or other social media sites. Particularly for older friends, or friends who have eluded the Twitter demographic, a simple link to the Twitter homepage and gentle, personal handwritten instructions on how to join and how to make the most of an account can go a long way (perhaps in conjunction with a more tangible gift).

Finally, dedicate a blog post or two to the ones you love this holiday season. Whether your internet presence is for corporate or personal purposes, a shoutout to the people who have made your life better in 2010 can never be a bad thing.