An overview of social media

What is Social Media?

Social media is a blanket term that encompasses all tools that allow groups to generate content and engage in peer-to-peer conversations and exchange of content online. Another common term for interactions such as these is “Web 2.0”. Social media are highly accessible and inexpensive tools that all anyone from the personal sector to the corporate sector to access, create, and publish information. These media are greatly distinct from more the more traditional industrial media (newspapers, television, film) that require heavy resources use for publication.

One characteristic shared by both social media and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach zero people or millions of people. The properties that help describe the differences between social media and industrial media depend on the study. Some of these properties are:

1. Reach

– both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and enable anyone to reach a global audience.

2. Accessibility

– the means of production for industrial media are typically owned privately or by government; social media tools are generally available to anyone at little or no cost.

3. Usability

– industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Most social media do not, or in some cases reinvent skills, so anyone can operate the means of production.

4. Recency

– the time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses; only the participants determine any delay in response). As industrial media are currently adopting social media tools, this feature may well not be distinctive anymore in some time.

5. Permanence

– industrial media, once created, cannot be altered (once a magazine article is printed and distributed changes cannot be made to that same article) whereas social media can be altered almost instantaneously by comments or editing.

In his 2006 book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler analyzed many of these distinctions and their implications in terms of both economics and political liberty. However, Benkler, like many academics, uses the neologism network economy or “network information economy” to describe the underlying economic, social, and technological characteristics of what has come to be known as “social media”.

Andrew Keen criticizes social media[citation needed] in his book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, “Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.” Information outputs and human interaction.

Primarily, social media depend on interactions between people as the discussion and integration of words to build shared-meaning, using technology as a conduit. Social media has been touted as presenting a fresh direction for marketing by allowing companies to talk with consumers, as opposed to talking at them.

Social media utilities create opportunities for the use of both inductive and deductive logic by their users. Claims or warrants are quickly transitioned into generalizations due to the manner in which shared statements are posted and viewed by all. The speed of communication, breadth, and depth, and ability to see how the words build a case solicits the use of rhetoric. Induction is frequently used as a means to validate or authenticate different users’ statements and words. Rhetoric is an important part of today’s language in social media.

Social media are not finite: there is not a set number of pages or hours. The audience can participate in social media by adding comments, instant messaging or even editing the stories themselves.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a term that describes the act of using social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other collaborative Internet form of media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. Common social media marketing tools include Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
In the context of Internet marketing, social media refers to a collective group of web properties whose content is primarily published by users, not direct employees of the property (e.g. the vast majority of video on YouTube is published by non-YouTube employees).

Social media marketing has three important aspects:

(1) Creating buzz or news worthy events, videos, tweets, or even blog entries that attract attention, and become viral in nature. Buzz is the piece that makes social media marketing work, it replicates a message not through purchase of an ad, but thorough user to user contact.

(2) Building ways that fans of a brand or company can promote it themselves in multiple online social media venues. Fan pages in Twitter, MySpace of Facebook are exactly this.

(3) It is conversational. Social media marketing is not fully controlled by the organization, it allows for user participation and dialogue. Potentially a badly designed social media marketing campaign can backfire on the organization that created it. That is the reason that SMM campaigns must fully engage and respect the users.

According to Lloyd Salmons, first chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau social media council “Social media isn’t just about big networks like Facebook and MySpace, it’s about brands having conversations.”

The parameters surrounding social media marketing are arguably elusive today; however a growing consensus suggests social media marketing and Social Media are here to stay. Nielsen published a report suggesting that blogs and social networks make up the emerging social web. The social web includes social media sites and it is a location within which social media marketing takes place.

Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).

Social media can be said to have three components;
1. Concept (art, information, or meme).
2. Media (physical, electronic, or verbal).
3. Social interface (intimate direct, community engagement, social viral, electronic broadcast or syndication, or other physical media such as print).

Common forms of social media;

* Concepts, slogans, and statements with a high memory retention quotient, that excite others to repeat.
* Grass-Roots direct action information dissemination such as public speaking, installations, performance, and demonstrations.
* Electronic media with ‘sharing’, syndication, or search algorithm technologies (includes internet and mobile devices).
* Print media, designed to be re-distributed.