What is Social Media?
Social media – when applied to the web and mobile technologies – is a collective term for any place where dialogue can occur. This dialogue is generated by members of the community where the interaction occurs and could be text, pictures, video or audio, or any combination of these. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).
Although there is a huge buzz about social media currently, social media has been around for a long time.
Email was the earliest form of Internet social media – although in modern parlance mailing lists (such as Mailman) may be a more accurate representation of what a social media environment could be as they allow two-way communication between a defined group of members for a defined purpose. Weblogs (blogs) like this one and the thousands of others out there are also social media environments because readers can post comments which stimulates dialogue within that community.
Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Youmeo (social network aggregation), Last.fm (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Avatars United (social networking), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging), and other microblogs such as Jaiku and Pownce. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo.
Further reading: 15 Free Social Media White Papers and Ebooks
In future posts I will be discussing how to apply social media to your company’s marketing strategy (or decide if you should) and how to understand the impact on your brand from social media environments.