What is Social Media?


IMAGE SOCIAL MEDIA KEYBOARD BLUE KEYFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … What is Social Media?  Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The definition of social media is  “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Furthermore, social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.

If that’s good enough for you, great!  If you are a business professional, we recommend taking a few minutes to read on to refresh and strengthen your expertise.

Social Media 101.

Most people associate social media with positive outcomes, yet this is not always the case. Due to the increase in social media websites, there seems to be a positive correlation between the usage of such media with cyber-bullying, online sexual predators, and the decrease in face-to-face interactions. Social media may expose children to images not appropriate their age.  Geocities, created in 1994, was one of the first social media sites. The concept was for users to create their own websites, characterized by one of six “cities” that were known for certain characteristics.  Much of the criticism of social media are about its exclusiveness as most sites do not allow the transfer of information from one to another, disparity of information available, issues with trustworthiness and reliability of information presented, concentration, ownership of media content, and the meaning of interactions created by social media. However, it is also argued that social media has positive effects such as allowing the democratization of the internet while also allowing individuals to advertise themselves and form friendships.

Social media differentiates from traditional/industrial media in many aspects such as quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. There are many effects that stem from internet usage.  It’s said that Internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011.  For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income.

Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forumsweblogssocial blogsmicrobloggingwikissocial networkspodcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, music-sharing, crowdsourcing and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms. By applying a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) Kaplan and Haenlein created a classification scheme in their Business Horizons (2010) article, with six different types of social media: collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter), content communities (for example, YouTube and DailyMotion), social networking sites (for example, Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). However, the boundaries between the different types have been increasingly blurred. For example, Twitter, as a combination of broadcasting service and social network, it may be better to be classified as a “social broadcasting technology.”

Mobile Social Media.

When social media is used in combination with mobile devices it is called mobile social media. This is a group of mobile marketing applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Due to the fact that mobile social media runs on mobile devices, it differentiates from traditional social media as it incorporates new factors such as the current location of the user (location-sensitivity) or the time delay between sending and receiving messages (time-sensitivity).

Business Potential.

While traditional social media offer a variety of opportunities for companies in a wide range of business sectors, mobile social media makes use of the location and time-sensitivity aspects of it in order to engage into marketing research, communication, sales promotions and discounts, and relationship development and loyalty programs.

  • Marketing research: Mobile social media applications offer data about offline consumer movements at a level of detail heretofore limited to online companies. Any firm can now know the exact time at which a customer entered one of its outlets, as well as comments made during the visit.
  • Communication: Mobile social media communication takes two forms, the first of which is company-to-consumer in which a company may establish a connection to a consumer based on its location and provide reviews about locations nearby. The second type of communication is user-generated content. For example, McDonald’s offered $5 and $10 gift cards to 100 users randomly selected among those checking in at one of the restaurants. This promotion increased check-ins by 33% (from 2,146 to 2,865), resulted in over 50 articles and blog posts, and prompted several hundred thousand news feeds and Twitter messages.
  • Sales promotions and discounts: While in the past customers had to use printed coupons, mobile social media allows companies to tailor promotions to specific users at specific times. For example, when launching its California-Cancun service, Virgin America offered users who checked in through Loopt at one of three designated Border Grill taco trucks in San Francisco and Los Angeles between 11 am and 3 pm on August 31, 2010, two tacos for $1 and two flights to Mexico for the price of one.
  • Relationship development and loyalty programs: In order to increase long-term relationships with customers, companies are able to create loyalty programs that allow customers who check-in regularly at a location to earn discounts or perks. For example, American Eagle Outfitters remunerates such customers with a tiered 10%, 15%, or 20% discount on their total purchase.
  • E-Commerce: Mobile social media applications such as Amazon.com and Pinterest are influencing an upward trend in the popularity and accessibility of e-commerce, or online purchases.

As always, we appreciate your continued support and commitment to success through learning.  If you know someone who could benefit from this topic, please share this link. That’s how social media works!

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One comment on “What is Social Media?

  1. Pingback: Social Media and Professional Ethics | jerrylanders

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