Social media is a phrase that we often use to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others.
But if we use the term to describe a site like Facebook, and also a site like twitter, plus a site like Wikipedia, then we can say it starts to get more confusing. But what is social media anyway?
The term social media is used so often that it can basically be used to describe almost any website on the internet today. Or maybe few.
v How to Define Social Media.
Social media quite simply are the technologies people use to communicate and socialise with one another, typically online.
Instead of defining the term social media using a bunch of boring sentences that would probably only complicate things further, or the best way to get a clearer understanding of it is to break it down into simpler terms. To start, let’s look and understand each word individually.
“Social”: this refers to as interacting with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them.
“Media”: this refers to an instrument of communication, like the internet, (TV, radio and newspapers are examples of more traditional forms of media).
v Now the basic definition of social media: Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.
Yes, it’s a simple definition–but keep in mind that social media is a very broad term. This is likely as specific as we can get without digging in too much on a more specific subcategory of social media
Common Features of Social Media
The following lists are common features of a social media.
User accounts: If a site allows visitors to create their own accounts that they can log into, then that’s a good sign there’s going to be social interaction. You can’t really share information or interact with others online without doing it through a user account.
Profile pages: Since social media is all about communication, a profile page is sometimes necessary to represent an individual. It often includes information about the user, like a profile photo, bio, website, feed of recent posts, recommendations, recent activity and more.
Friends, followers, groups, and so on: Individuals use their accounts to connect with other friends, families and other users. They can also use them to subscribe to certain forms of information.
Personalization: Social media sites usually give users the flexibility to configure their account settings, customise their profiles to look a specific way, organise their friends or followers, manage the information they see in their news feeds and even give feedback on what they do or don’t want to see.
Notifications: Any site or app that notifies users about specific information is definitely playing the social media feature. Users can have total control over these notifications and can choose to receive the types of notifications that they want.
News feeds: When users connect with other users on social media, what this basically means is that “I want to get information from these people.” That information is updated for them in real-time via the news feed.
Like buttons and comment sections: some most common ways we interact on social media are via call to action buttons that represent a “like” or comment sections where we can share our thoughts
Information updating, saving or posting: If a site or an app allows you to post anything, with or without a user account, then it’s social! It could be a simple text-based message, a photo upload, a video, a link to an article or anything else.
Review, rating or voting systems: some social media sites and apps rely on the collective effort of the community to review, rate and vote on information that they know about or have used, besides from liking and commenting. Think of your favourite discussion sites or movie review sites that use this social media feature.