What is Social Media?
Social Media describes the technologies, platforms and methods in which users share content online.
Social Media relies on user-generated content and allows users to share, discuss and participate in the conversation. It also allows people or businesses to become both readers and publishers of content. Interaction also plays a key role in Social Media with communication between fellow users increasing content levels and further spreading the word.
Multiple levels of media
This content can come in many forms including; text, images, videos and audio. Online communities are also created through Social Media as like-minded individuals discuss their common interests.
Social Media is fast moving with a constant stream of new technologies being created allowing for greater interaction and new ways to share content online.
Below is a list of the most popular Social Media platform types:
- Social Networks – Social Networks are platforms designed for users to interact with one another and allow people to create personal profiles in which they can communicate with fellow users –most often friends, family or business associates. Social Networks allow users to chat and share content – be it through text, photo or video. Currently, the most popular social networking sites include Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Bebo.
- Video Sharing – Video is a content medium that can be uploaded and shared online. A prime example would be YouTube. Users can comment on posted videos and increase viewer numbers through links, word of mouth and by uploading the video to other online portals/sites.
- Photo sharing – Photo sharing sites are becoming increasingly popular and allow users to upload and share their photographs or images online. These photos can then be shared across the web. A good example of a photo sharing website would be Flickr.
- Blogging/Forums – Blogs and forums are types of websites usually maintained by an individual, a business or an online community. The way in which a blog differs from a standard static website is in the regular updates or entries made. These can be made up of a multitude of things be it a running commentary, event updates, latest news or rich media. Blogs are also highly interactive and most blogs allow for readers to post comments or add to an article. Micro blogging is a more recent phenomenon allowing users to post very short text posts on a regular basis – Twitter is the best example of this.
- Social Bookmarking – Social bookmarking sites allow users to share their thoughts on content across the web. They can comment of all types of content whether it is an overall website, a blog post, a news article or even a photo or video. By publicly bookmarking this content it becomes suggested to other relevant users who in turn read and can also bookmark the item spreading it across the internet. Popular social bookmarking sites include: Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and del.icio.us.
This is certainly not a definitive list of all things Social Media, but it gives you an idea of the wide range of online mediums which are all grouped and incorporated into the common phrase ‘Social Media’.