What is Social Media?
Nowadays, social media is a term that everyone has come across. It’s infiltrated our lives and changed the way we live and do business. However, what does social media actually mean and where did it come from? Here’s our lowdown on what it is and its roots in our history:
The Definition of Social Media
According to TechTarget, social media is ‘the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.’
TechTarget continues that, ‘Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media.’
Social media, in its most redundant form, is participating on the internet – it’s using media to be social. The term is actually extremely hard to pin down to one definition, as Chris Lake discovers after coming up with thirty-four different ways to describe it. He asked his Twitter followers to describe it in 140 characters or less and found alternating meanings such as, ‘an open platform, free form, uncensored conversation between millions of people worldwide without borders’ and ‘a place where people go [to] connect with other people. I guess the ‘love’ column in London Paper could even be a social media. It isn’t limited to online media’.
The same things that seemed to pop up in all the various definitions were connectivity, the freedom to say whatever you wanted, and that social media basically makes the world seem a little bit smaller. However, social media is personal to whoever’s using it, so to everyone it’s a little different. For instance, a business who have just created a new online board game will view it is an outlet to sell their product, whereas an Influencer will see it as a chance to build a fan base and create relationships with other companies.
Social media evolves and changes every day, so any definition associated with it, would have to grow with it too.
When Did Social Media Begin?
Social media hasn’t always been a quick tool to share content and connect. It didn’t start with apps and smartphones or big social media sites. If you view it as a way to communicate over a long distance, then its roots can be found in Morse code in the 19th century. However, going on today’s definition of social media, this kind of communication isn’t taking place online and there’s no real sense of community involved.
Therefore, social media really begun during the 1970s when the Internet finally emerged. Thus, social media originated on computers. During the 1990s, people began getting personal computers and the world of blogging started to infiltrate homes. Individuals could express how they felt to people on their network. The invention of online chatrooms made it easier for friends to communicate and paved way for the first social media site SixDegrees.com, which let users log on, add a profile picture and connect with others.
What Social Media Platforms Are There?
There are endless amounts of social media platforms – some forgotten, some brand new, and some that will seemingly never go away. We’ve collated information on four of the biggest sites.
One of the biggest social media platforms has to be Facebook. It has an incredible 2.2 billion users and almost 1.5 billion of them use it every day. It connects individuals all over the world and is continuously looking for ways to evolve and improve to get back to the idea of social media as a way to network with humans.
Twitter is another huge platform at the moment, for those who want to express their views and connect with like-minded people. As of January 2019, Twitter has 326 million active monthly users and 100 million of them are active every day.
Instagram, now Facebook’s property, was released back in 2010. However, within nine years it has accumulated a billion users! Instagram gives you the opportunity to be more fun with social media and focus on the visual side of content, rather than the copy.
LinkedIn is the perfect companion for businesses who want to connect with other companies, as well as for users who want to find a new career. It currently has 630 million users, 303 million of which are active monthly.
Why is Social Media Important?
Social media is important for individuals as well as businesses. With social media you can make friends, connect with people internationally, join groups and find people with similar interests to you. Social media keeps you up to date with the latest news and fills you in on things you might not have read in the newspaper. It offers you different people’s opinions and opens your mind up to worlds you never knew existed.
Social media taps into the human need for social interaction and provides a never-ending networking buffet for individuals to consume.
The Benefits Social Media Can Have on Your Business
Social media has changed the way we do business forever. Long gone are the days companies would have to spend a small fortune taking an ad out in a local newspaper. We mean, the option is still available, but why would you when there’s a whole world out there ready to listen for free?
Social media is equally as beneficial to businesses as it is to individuals looking for communication. Social media has changed the way brands advertise, sell and make people aware of their products and services. It is now essential businesses have social media pages set up, so potential customers can see what a brand has to offer. Companies also have a larger audience base to try to reach, because so many people all over the world are using social media.
People trust a business with an active social media page, who post about their team, product information and good, quality content. Social media is often a place people will go to engage with a brand and give feedback on a product or service they’ve received. Consequently, it becomes a stage, in which businesses can build brand awareness, establish themselves as a thought leader, view competitors and humanise their brand.
How Giraffe Can Help
As specialists in social media, we know the importance of it for your business. If you’re looking for more information on social media or need one of your social pages optimised or updated, please get in contact today.