What Is Social Media?
Social media is a very broad term that covers a wide range of online communication tools. These diverse tools — from websites to wikis to blogs to galleries — have a common denominator in that information is shared in a two-way street of interaction.
Whereas traditional websites might provide information, social media websites give that information and also invite visitors to leave comments, vote in a poll, or share the content with other users.
Much of the content on social media sites is based on user participation and is user-generated content. By commenting, voting, sharing, "liking," etc., users contribute to and participate in an online community. They connect with other users and build relationships.
Types of social media
To better understand the scope of social media, the most common types or categories are:
Social networking. Users interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining special interest groups and creating discussions. The most common and well-known example of this is Facebook.
Businesses use social media
Many businesses use social media as a new way of reaching consumers directly. Rather than using traditional media like television or radio commercials, social media marketing is a more direct and hands-on method of marketing that provokes comments from consumers.
Businesses can reach consumers and markets like never before. They can influence and promote ideas or products by simply making the conscious decision to engage consumers. Thoughts and ideas that were once insignificant are now amplified through the power of social media.