Elements of Social Media

There are a number of important characteristics that set social media apart from any other sort of traditional media or online content:

  • User generated content – The days of visiting a website and merely reading content written by someone else are all but gone. Now we are all participants, authors and content creators. Even commenting on a blog or replying to someone publicly becomes “content.” This is what is known as Web 2.0.
  • Conversation – this is not a one-way medium. Anything anyone posts via social media has the potential to start a conversation. And with technologies such as Twitter, you can be part of this ever-evolving 24/7 conversation, with the ability to jump in and out whenever you feel like it. As in real life, you may contribute as little or as much as you like, thereby shaping the conversation.
  • Build and maintain relationships -Through social media you can keep in touch with existing friends, and even find new friends based on shared interests. From a business perspective, this includes current and potential clients. You can reconnect with old friends and maintain existing relationships on a daily basis.
  • Communication – For many of us, gone are the days of writing letters or picking up the phone. I can communicate with my friends via email, text messaging, or through our Facebook or Twitter accounts. I can even share information or make contact with multiple people all at the same time.
  • Information sharing – If I find something in the newspaper or online, or somewhere else that I find interesting, I now have the ability to share with a lot of people at the same time. Old-school methods required photocopying and hand distributing. New methods allow me to tweet a link to hundreds or thousands of people at a time.
  • Community/Consumer focused – while most media is product or company focused, social media is about building community, and functions as such. The members (both consumer AND company/organization) are participants in the community. It is the community that dictates the shape and scope of the content.

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