Social media sites are a great place to exchange all kind of ideas or meet new people, they are also a goldmine for designers and creative people searching for inspiration. In this article I share a few ways that I often use to find inspiration through social media sites.
Browse image bookmarking websites
Design bookmarking sites are probably the most popular among designers. My favourite is by far FFFFound, a social media site where selected designers (you must be invited to get an account) share designs they loved around the web. One of the best features about the website is its keyboard based navigation. Other great image bookmarking networks are Dropular, Typeish, We Heart it or vi.sualize.us.
For typography lovers, John Boardley, the author of “I Love Typography “, created with a friend “We Love Typography“, an bookmarking website targetting specifically typography related stuff. You will for sure find a lot of inspiring design work there.
Interaction is what web 2.0 is all about. Sometimes all you need to do is communicate, that’s what Twitter, Blurtit or Yahoo Answers are for. I often ask my Twitter followers when I’m looking for ideas for a blog post. You can even take this further by using services like Twittpoll. People will most likely be happy to help you out, they are usually glad when they can show their expertise.
This can sound like obvious advice, but it has to be mentionned as blogs are one of my biggest inspiration sources. There are two types of blogs that I find better to find inspiration: people who share designs that they like, for example Design You Trust or Smashing Magazine, or tutorial blogs like NetTuts or PSDTuts.
Flickr by itself is just a good social photo site and isn’t so helpful to find inspiration. What makes it really amazing are the cool mashups that have been created around the website. My favourite mashup is by far the color palette generator that allows you to extract colours from one of your Flickr photos. Another Flickr related colour mashup is available on the Multicolr Search Lab , where you can look for interesting pictures that contain specific colours. If you simply want to search images more efficiently, take a look at Compfight.
One great resource for inspiration is to listen to inspiring and successful people, watching conferences is a good way to do that. TED is the best conference for people looking for anything related to design, entertainment and technology. They bring every year brilliant speakers and share talks on their website. Another good source for design speeches is the AIGA video section, where they put videos of conferences organized by the association. Last but not least, Talks@Google offer a wide range of inspiring talks, most are not by designers but are still interesting.
Search for keywords on social bookmarking sites
It is no secret that people bookmark webpages that they find inspiring or useful, thus searching social bookmarking sites is a great way to find inspiration. In my opinion, Delicious and Stumbleupon are the best places for designers to find inspiration, obviously because they are the most used by other designers. In Delicious, you can perform searches by tags, then narrow you search within this tag. Another great way to make the most out of Delicious is to find power users and browse their bookmarks (for example Adobe).
For Stumbleupon, you’ll find inspiration for sure by stumbling the Graphic design, Drawing or Fine Arts categories. For more specific topics, just search for a keyword and stumble pages tagged with this keyword.