Social media are web-based technologies which allow the generation or sharing/publication/exchange of ideas, concepts, interests, and virtually any other types of human expression through social media networks and virtual communities. Social Media are an increasingly powerful medium with huge potential for sharing and social interaction. Social media can be defined as a set of technologies and programs designed to allow users to establish and use a virtual community or “microsite” on the Internet and to interact with other users within the same virtual community. There are several different types of social media. Some of the most popular social networking sites include MySpace, FriendFinder, and FaceBook.
With social media, audiences are able to express themselves and share unique personal stories with others in a non-judgmental, supportive, non-intrusive environment. Social media channels provide a venue where audiences can go to discuss different types of topics, connect with friends, play games, send messages, share photos, record audio, or upload videos. Social media can be used by businesses to generate new leads, connect with audiences, enhance the company’s online presence, and promote products and services. Below are some of the different types of social media networks that have gained in popularity over the past year or so:
Social Media Networks like Facebook are popular because of its user-friendly interface and casual style of posting and communicating. Users can easily share photos, comments, and personal messages with the large, comprehensive wall of individual pages. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds and set up their own profiles. There are also numerous applications, games, and social widgets available on Facebook. Facebook is especially popular among college students, who can use it as a platform to interact with each other and with professors.
Another popular type of social networking site is Twitter, which allows users to post short, unique messages to large, instant audience. Twitter is similar to Facebook in that it features a large, accessible wall of individual profile pages for users to browse. It also has a number of different applications, including photo and video sharing, along with discussion forums and blogs.
YouTube is popular for its easy-to-use interface and free of cost video sharing abilities. Millions of people visit YouTube daily, viewing more than a billion videos. The Internet Video Project aims to bring video hosting to the masses through the help of social networks. YouTube is especially useful for brands looking to reach audiences outside of their own country. In India, for example, companies can upload promotional videos related to their products and services, thereby reaching target audiences around the country.
Social media networks provide the tools for a brand to develop different types campaigns based on consumer review networks, which allow users to make comments on products and services. Brand content can be discussed on social shopping networks, blogs, or in fan pages. These platforms can also be used as a vehicle for marketing a new product or service. Social shopping networks allow customers to compare different types of products and make recommendations. Brands can use this platform to collect feedback from customers, which helps in improving current designs and incorporating new ideas.