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Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “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.”[1] Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media utilization is believed to be a driving force in defining the current period as the Attention Age. A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.

Social media have been modernized to reach consumers through the internet. Social media have become appealing to big and small businesses. Credible brands are utilizing social media to reach customers and to build or maintain reputation. As social media continue to grow, the ability to reach more consumers globally has also increased. Twitter, for example, has expanded its global reach to Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico, among others. This means that brands are now able to advertise in multiple languages and therefore reach a broader range of consumers. Social media have become the new “tool” for effective business marketing and sales.[2] Popular networking sites including Myspace, Facebook and Twitter are social media most commonly used for socialization and connecting friends, relatives, and employees.

  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.

Distinction from industrial media

are sources in which people gain information, education, news, etc., by electronic media, and, print media. Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television, and film. They are relatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone(even private individuals) to publish or access information, compared to industrial media, which generally require significant resources to publish information.

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 does 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.

Community media constitute an interesting hybrid of industrial and social media. Though community-owned, some community radios, TV and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks.

In his 2006 book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and FreedomYochai 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 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.”[3]

There are various statistics out now that account for social media usage and effectiveness for individuals worldwide. However, some of the most recent statistics are as follows:

Social networking now accounts for 11 percent of all time spent online in the US.[4] A total of 234 million people age 13 and older in the U.S. used mobile devices in December 2009.[5]Twitter processed more than one billion tweets in December 2009 and averages almost 40 million tweets per day.[6] Over 25% of U.S. internet page views occurred at one of the top social networking sites in December 2009, up from 13.8% a year before.[7]

Examples

Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forumsweblogssocial blogsmicrobloggingwikispodcasts, pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. 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 for different social media types in their Business Horizons article published in 2010. According to Kaplan and Haenlein there are six different types of social media: Collaborative projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game worlds, and virtual communities. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, emailinstant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.

Examples of social media software applications include:

Communication

Collaboration

Multimedia

Reviews and opinions

Entertainment

Brand monitoring

Other

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