Social media broadly defined consists of any online platform or channel for user generated content. By this definition, for example, WordPress, Sharepoint, and Lithium qualify as social media, as do YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Social media more narrowly defined includes only channels for user-generated content, as distinguished from platforms, which are referred to as social technologies. By this definition, for example, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are social media, and WordPress, Sharepoint and Lithium are social technologies.
University College London defines Social Media as "technology that affords 'scalable sociality'" (see figure below). This mean that social media provides greater control in communication over both the degree of privacy and size of group, when compared with previous forms of communications media. However, this is only one among many possible definitions. Anthropologists are interested in sociality, i.e. how people associate within society. As anthropologists, we suggest that previously media were mainly either private or fully public, but social media consists of platforms which have occupied the spaces between the two. Other disciplines with other concerns will have different definitions.
source: University College London
Social media is perceived as a Web 2.0 development, which is to say that it is founded on the concept of a user-driven, interactive web. Blogs, message boards and chat rooms provide an experience that could be described as social media, but the term is more strongly identified with sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and so on. Like many buzzwords, the meaning of social media is a moving target that gets shifted around according to what the person using it wants it to mean.
History of Social Media
Social media may have been influenced by the 1840s introduction of the telegraph in the US, which connected the country. ARPANET, which first came online in 1967, had by the late 1970s developed a rich cultural exchange of non-government/business ideas and communication, as clearly evidenced by ARPANET#Rules and etiquette's "A 1982 handbook on computing at MIT's AI Lab stated regarding network etiquette," and fully met the current definition of the term "social media" found in this article. The PLATO system launched in 1960, which was developed at the University of Illinois and subsequently commercially marketed by Control Data Corporation, offered early forms of social media with 1973-era innovations such as Notes, PLATO's message-forum application; TERM-talk, its instant-messaging feature; Talkomatic, perhaps the first online chat room; News Report, a crowd-sourced online newspaper and blog; and Access Lists, enabling the owner of a notesfile or other application to limit access to a certain set of users, for example, only friends, classmates, or co-workers. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea of Usenet in 1979 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and it was established in 1980.
Usenet, which arrived in 1979, was beat by a precursor of the electronic bulletin board system (BBS) known as Community Memory in 1973. True electronic bulletin board systems arrived with the Computer Bulletin Board System in Chicago, which first came online on 16 February 1978. Before long, most major cities had more than one BBS running on TRS-80, Apple II, Atari, IBM PC, Commodore 64, Sinclair, and similar personal computers. The IBM PC was introduced in 1981, and subsequent models of both Mac computers and PCs were used throughout the 1980s. Multiple modems, followed by specialized telecommunication hardware, allowed many users to be online simultaneously. Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL were three of the largest BBS companies and were the first to migrate to the Internet in the 1990s. Between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, BBSes numbered in the tens of thousands in North America alone. Message forums (a specific structure of social media) arose with the BBS phenomenon throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. When the Internet proliferated in the mid-1990s, message forums migrated online, becoming Internet forums, primarily due to cheaper per-person access as well as the ability to handle far more people simultaneously than telco modem banks.
GeoCities was one of the Internet's earliest social networking websites, appearing in November 1994, followed by Classmates in December 1995 and Six Degrees in May 1997. According to CBS news, Six Degrees is "widely considered to be the very first social networking site", as it included "profiles, friends lists and school affiliations" that could be used by registered users. Open Diary was launched in October 1998; LiveJournal in April 1999; Ryze in October 2001; Friendster in March 2002; the corporate and job-oriented site LinkedIn in May 2003; hi5 in June 2003; MySpace in August 2003; Orkut in January 2004; Facebook in February 2004; Yahoo! 360° in March 2005; Bebo in July 2005; the text-based service Twitter, in which posts, called "tweets", were limited to 140 characters, in July 2006; Tumblr in February 2007; and Google+ in July 2011. As operating systems with a graphical user interface, such as Windows 95 and Mac OS begin to emerge and gain popularity, this created an environment that allows for early social media platforms to thrive and exist.
Social Media Characteristics
Social Media are the platforms that enable the interactive web by engaging users to participate in, comment on and create content as means of communicating with their social graph, other users and the public. Social media has the following characteristics:
- Encompasses wide variety of content formats including text, video, photographs, audio, PDF and PowerPoint. (Social content is a by-product of creating content with your community.)
- Allows interactions to cross one or more platforms through social sharing, email and feeds.
- Involves different levels of engagement by participants who can create, comment or lurk on social media networks.
- Facilitates enhanced speed and breadth of information dissemination.
- Provides for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications.
- Enables communication to take place in real time or asynchronously over time.
- Is device indifferent. It can take place via a computer (including laptops and netbooks), tablets (including iPads, iTouch and others) and mobile phones (particularly smartphones).
- Extends engagement by creating real-time online events, extending online interactions offline, or augmenting live events online.
The Many Forms of Social Media
Social media may take the form of a variety of tech-enabled activities. These activities include photo sharing, blogging, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, business networks, virtual worlds, reviews and much more. Even governments and politicians utilize social media to engage with constituents and voters.
- For individuals, social media is used to keep in touch with friends and extended family. Some people will use various social media applications to network career opportunities, find people across the globe with like interests, and share their thought, feelings, insight, and emotions. Those who engage in these activities are part of a virtual social network.
- For businesses, social media is an indispensable tool. Companies use the platform to find and engage with customers, drive sales through advertising and promotion, gauge consumer trends, and offering customer service or support.
Social media's role in helping businesses is significant. It facilitates communication with customers, enabling the melding of social interactions on e-commerce sites. Its ability to collect information helps focus marketing efforts and market research. It helps in promoting products and services, as it enables the distribution of targeted, timely, and exclusive sales and coupons to would-be customers. Further, social media can help in building customer relationships through loyalty programs linked to social media.
Common Social Media Features
The following list of common features are often dead giveaways of a social media site. If you're questioning whether a particular site could be classified as social or not, try looking for at least one of these features:
- Personal user accounts: If a site allows visitors to create their own accounts that they can log into, then that's a good first sign it might be used for some kind of user-based interaction — perhaps social interaction. Although it's possible to share information or interact with others online anonymously, having to create some kind of user account first is more of a common, standard thing.
- Profile pages: Since social media is all about communication, a profile page is often necessary to help represent an individual and give them a space to create their own personal brand. It often includes information about the individual user, like a profile photo, bio, website, feed of recent posts, recommendations, recent activity and more.
- Friends, followers, groups, hashtags and so on: Individuals use their accounts to connect with other users. They can also use them to subscribe to certain forms of information.
- News feeds: When users connect with other users on social media, they're basically saying, "I want to get information from these people." That information is updated for them in real-time via their news feed.
- Personalization: Social media sites usually give users the flexibility to configure their user settings, customize their profiles to look a specific way, organize their friends or followers, manage the information they see in their news feeds and even give feedback on what they do or don't want to see.
- Notifications: Any site or app that notifies users about specific information is definitely playing the social media game. Users have total control over these notifications and can choose to receive the types of notifications that they want.
- Information updating, saving or posting: If a site or an app allows you to post absolutely anything, with or without a user account, then it's social! It could be a simple text-based message, a photo upload, a YouTube video, a link to an article or anything else.
- Like buttons and comment sections: Two of the most common ways we interact on social media are via buttons that represent a 'like' plus comment sections where we can share our thoughts.
- Review, rating or voting systems: Besides liking and commenting, lots of social media sites and apps rely on the collective effort of the community to review, rate and vote on information that they know about or have used. Think of your favorite shopping sites or movie review sites that use this social media feature.
The Social Media Landscape
The social ecosystem is rich in platforms, forums, and sites where people gather to communicate about local and global events shaping their lives. A look inside the conversations people engage in provides insight into the behaviors, attitudes and feelings that influence culture, politics and world economies, for better or for worse. There are so many forums and hubs housing billions of conversations every minute, and chances are, you and your community manager have never used these platforms before. While Facebook and YouTube play a major role in shaping our collective reality, businesses would be remiss to ignore the rumors, attitudes and questions emerging from the deeper layers of the social media sphere. The ideas circulating about your business or industry on obscure online forums and WhatsApp chat groups halfway across the world are just as important as the ideas floating about Facebook statuses. With so many layers and crevices of conversation, the challenge for brands and news organizations is in making sense of what’s happening on social media, from open networks, to private communities and closed networks, and all the way down to the fringe networks. It may sound appealing to dismiss less popular or more controversial platforms and sites, but doing so can adversely affect your business, or prevent you from identifying opportunities for growth. Not only do the platforms beneath the surface give businesses insight into consumption patterns and preferences, but they enable you to detect early indicators of potential attacks or defamation attempts on your business.
Source: Terra Ferma
Importance of Using Social Media the Right Way
One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is to open up accounts on every social media platform they think is relevant and then leave them alone with no activity. Having an account with any of the social media platforms does not mean your business is into social media any more than owning golf clubs makes you ready for the PGA. In fact, social media users are turned off by the retailer who opens accounts and does not engage with clients and the public and consequently become labeled a pretender. The reality is, it is better to not have a social media icon on your website if you are not going to actively engage with it—and actively means on a daily basis.
The other big mistake retailers make is to use social media to talk about what is important to them rather than talking about what is important to the customer. As a retailer, you may think it is great to shout that you have a sale going on; and in some regards, this would be true. But, if that's the only reason you are getting involved in social media it won't be beneficial. Your goal should be to provide content that is relevant to your customer and engage with them to the point that they want to share your post with others. If you use social media you need to engage with your customers, involve them in a dialogue, and ask them for their opinions. Post a picture of two items you are considering carrying in your store and ask customers which one they like best. This creates a dialogue which leads to shared posts which leads to engaged followers. Plus, if you follow this example, it will also lead to enhanced margins because your back and forth conversation will prevent you from buying the item that won't sell as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Media
Advantages of Social Media
The business benefits of effective social media use include:
- Brand awareness - Compelling and relevant content will grab the attention of potential customers and increase brand visibility. See branding: the basics.
- Brand reputation - You can respond instantly to industry developments and be seen as ‘thought leader’ or expert in your field. This can improve how your business is seen by your audience. See public relations (PR).
- Cost effective - It can be much cheaper than traditional advertising and promotional activities. The costs of maintaining a social media presence are minimal. If you choose to invest in paid advertising, you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows.
- Website traffic - Social content can boost traffic to your website. This can lead to increased online conversions such as sales and leads.
- Evaluation - It is easy to measure how much website traffic you receive from social media. You can set up tracking to determine how many sales are generated by paid social advertising.
- Customer interaction - You can deliver improved customer service and respond effectively to feedback. Positive feedback is public and can be persuasive to other potential customers. Negative feedback highlights areas where you can improve.
- Target audience - Customers can find you through the social media platforms they use most. You can choose to maintain a presence on particular social networks that are in line with your target audience. For example, if you are targeting young people you could reach them through Snapchat. If you are seeking business customers, LinkedIn may be the best channel. See social media platforms.
- Brand loyalty - You can build relationships with your customers through social media. This can help increase loyalty and advocacy.
Disadvantages of Social Media
Some of the downsides of using social media include:
- Resources - You will need to commit resources to managing your social media presence, responding to feedback and producing new content. This can include hiring and training staff, investing in paid advertising and paying for the costs of creating video or image content.
- Evaluation - While it is easy to quantify the return-on-investment in terms of online sales generated by social media advertising – there are some less tangible benefits. It can be hard to measure and place a monetary value on the brand awareness and reputation that social media can bring. It’s difficult to know how social media effects sales in-store.
- Ineffective use - Social media can be used ineffectively. For example, using the network to push for sales without engaging with customers, or failing to respond to negative feedback - may damage your reputation.
Social Media Governance
World Wide Web (WWW)
Internet of Things (IoT)
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media Definition Joe Cothrel
- Defining Social Media UCL
- Explaining Social Media Techopedia
- History of Social Media Wikipedia
- Social Media Characteristics Heidi Cohen
- The Many Forms of Social Media Investopedia
- Common Social Media Features Lifewire
- The Social Media Landscape Storyful
- Importance of Using Social Media the Right Way the balance smb
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Social Media NIBusines Info