The definition of social media is that these are the foremost internet based tools to disseminate and exchange information among people. It is the term used to describe social interaction activities using computer, web and telecommunications technology. It differentiates itself from industrial media by virtue of the fact that the cost of the tools necessary to participate is fairly low and allows all who want to access information or disseminate it, to do so relatively cheaply. On the other hand, examples of industrial media are printing presses, radio and television. Industrial media can be considered funnels that facilitate access to, and movement of huge quantities of information, whereas a website is the information container. Narrowly focused websites can be seen as exits from the vast space of industrial media channels. Further, those websites that are community focused also facilitate internet marketing activities such as lead acquisition and permission marketing.
The principal properties possessed by social media are range, accessibility and usability. Let me expand on each of these below:
- Range – This is the ability to communicate with the global audience now available on the World Wide Web.
- Accessibility – Social media tools are available to most everyone with a good internet connection and access to a computer and the cost to have this access is very reasonable. There are also many free tools available on the internet which facilitates involvement of the masses.
- Usability – Social media does not require any really specialized skills and/or training. Any skills that have to be acquired are simple to learn and you can be good to go virtually instantaneously.
Examples of social media come in many forms such as internet forums, weblogs, wikis, and others. The technologies involved include email, instant messaging, music and picture sharing. Currently, the major social media applications are Facebook, MySpace, Google groups, Wikipedia and many others, with the number and variety of these groups growing daily. In addition to these media applications there are related clubs which have sprung up.
It is interesting to note that various groups on the internet involved with social media have developed their own sets of disclosure policies which are designed to govern the conduct of their participants. The principal groups concerned in this movement are the Blog council, IBM Social Computing Guidelines, HP Code of Conduct, and The Greteman Group.
There is no doubt that social media will continue to evolve as more people join in this activity, the technology is advanced and, entrepreneurs find more ways to profit from it.