Social media is a term we hear and see a lot these days, thanks to the increasing popularity of Internet marketing. It combines people, technology, an organization, and communication. Though people use the term to refer to different tools, it is basically any social instrument of communication. In the online world, this is any site that provides information and also interacts with the recipient. While regular media involves one-way communication, the social form is two-way, offering the recipient the ability to communicate as well.
Characteristics of Social Media
Online media that falls into this category has several characteristics in common. It encourages feedback and contributions from interested parties. Comments, information sharing, and voting are a few tools that recipients use to provide their feedback. The content is usually opened to anyone and is considered a conversation, not a broadcast.
Communities quickly form around this type of media, sharing common interests, whether these pertain to a religious or political issue, a hobby, or a television show. In many cases, this media relies on being connected, utilizing links to other people, resources, and websites. It is not unusual for a reader to start on one site and wind up on a completely different site when exploring a topic.
Forms of Social Media
This media can currently be categorized into six types, though innovation makes this subject to change at any time. Social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo allow people to create personal Web profiles, communicate, and share content with others. Online journals called blogs and microblogs like Twitter are two other forms. Podcasts like Apple iTunes are video and audio files available with a subscription.
Wikis, like Wikipedia, are websites that allow anyone to edit or add content to them, creating a communal database or document. Forums are online discussion areas categorized by interest or topic. Content communities organize and share certain types of content. Flickr does this with photographs and YouTube does it with videos. People can easily find bookmarked links on a variety of topics by visiting del.icio.us.
This form of media builds upon the nature of human beings. Civilizations are built on sharing ideas, cooperating, and collaborating, so there is no reason these cannot be building blocks for commerce. These media outlets allow companies to develop relationships with and gain the trust of prospects and customers. This positions the business as subject matter expert, encouraging backlinks, which are an important component of an SEO strategy.