Social Media is a modern form of two-way communication that is rapidly replacing more traditional forms of information publishing. It is a collection of online tools and websites designed to encourage people to interact with brands, companies and people to create environments that promote sharing, creating and content that is relevant and useful to its members.
Multiple platforms witness millions of user interactions through common-interest communities. Each social media platform has its own purpose and function which encourages an online community atmosphere to engage, inform and entertain its audience. It is a powerful inclusion into a solid digital strategy that can harness the power of users to grow your brand through word of mouth.
There are traditional forms of communication such as television and newspapers which offer very little in the way of mutual or reciprocal feedback. Social Media allows its audience to interact with the content they are presented with. They are made to feel a part of the conversation rather than merely an observer of it. Successful social media campaigns take advantage of this inclusive atmosphere by encouraging users to interact with the content. It is a great way to conduct market research that analyses consumer habits and informs a brand’s wider marketing approach.
By connecting your business to social media platforms you can access millions of users everyday to promote and share your brand online. The most popular social media platforms are:
Combined Social Media has over 2.5 billion active monthly users who engage, upload, comment, tweet, post, share, like, pin and watch content based on their interests and their social media connection’s suggestions. It is a powerful tool in your digital marketing strategy to grow your business, its brand and, ultimately, profitability.
Facebook rapidly garnered attention from the world after going ‘viral’ as a university-based social message board. Its exponential growth has positioned it to be the most powerful social media sites and is ranked number 2 in the overall internet search list behind Google.
Users can post every type of content to their friends as a single user or their followers as a business page. People can choose to share, like or comment in response. Users can be friends with people from their offline lives or befriend strangers based on common-interests. Business pages allow brands to keep followers informed, involve them in their brand and encourage interaction by building a personality for their brand or business.
Currently it has over 665 million users every day with 1.1 billion active users in total. It generates $1.25 billion in ad revenue each quarter epitomising its unshakable position in the social media market.
It is the world’s largest professional network with over 220 million users in over 200 countries from around the world.
The platform is built with networking individuals in mind to enable their connection to relevant professionals across the world. LinkedIn’s focus is giving career-oriented people a way to build an online portfolio of their education, skills, experience and interests to connect with valuable, like-minded colleagues and peers for collaboration, engagement and employment opportunities.
With two users signing up every second, LinkedIn is becoming an extremely valuable tool for networking professionals to work without borders.
As an information network, Twitter is used by members to share small snippets (or "tweets") of information in a real-time, engaging and highly sharable format. The premise is to find users who tweet about topics you are interested in so you can follow them and, as a result, their posts will appear in your home feed.
As a user you can decide how you interact with the information by choosing to simply read, re-tweet (share) it, like it or add it to your own feed. You can also decide to tweet about a trending topic using a hashtag or direct a tweet at a user through an @ symbol and their username.
Currently Twitter has 285 million active monthly users and 500 million registered accounts which explains why they are the fastest growing social media platform.
A video-sharing website created by three former employees of Paypal in 2005 where users can upload, view, comment and share video content.
It uses Adobe Flash Players and HTML5 technology to display video content from a broad range of topics and includes movie clips, TV clips, music videos, home movies, video blogging and educational or informational videos. Users can create channels for their content and this is favoured by corporate marketing strategies whose channels average 2 million views. These videos can be shared and followed by other users and the 1 billion monthly users watch 6 billion hours of videos every month.
Researchers have estimated that YouTube reaches more US adults than any other cable network content.
Pinterest is built on users pinning photos or videos to their virtual pin board on the internet that they find beautiful, entertaining or useful. Users can either pin an image using the Pinit bookmarklet which is installed onto their browser toolbar or upload an image directly to an account.
A board is used to organise pins using a theme, topic or personal collection for example shoes, design ideas, recipes or quotes. You can share these boards and even invite other people to add to it with their own choice of pins.
Pinterest has over 45 million active users who spend 70% more on Pinterest-referred products than referrals from non-social channels. It is an exceptionally useful marketing tool as seventy per cent of brand engagement is generated by users rather than the brands themselves.
It is a social networking platform that aims to integrate all of Google’s useful services in one place including Gmail, YouTube and Blogger where users can enhance their experience by logging in with their already existing Google. Users can place their friends, family and colleagues into "Circles" and Hangouts to socialise, group chat, instant message and use a suggestion engine to create a much more personalised service through a Google Plus account.
Basically it can be used as each individual desires with standardised social media functions like image sharing, instant messaging, comments etc for a platform to either engage in ongoing conversations or as a platform for self-expression.
It has recently surpassed Twitter in terms of its active followers with over 500 million registered users counted in January 2013 to become number two in the social media platform race.
As an online photo-sharing and social network, Instagram encourages its users to share life, interests and experiences with friends, family and followers.
It has a photo function that allows users to apply filters that enhance the look of their image before sharing it. For extended shareability images can be hashtagged to link them to particular topics and categories which can be searched for by other users. Each user can access photo-streams based on their interests or desired search phrases and from there they can like images, comment on them and choose to follow the user who uploaded it. Recently a video function was added to enhance the usability of the platform.
Currently there are 100 million active monthly users who upload 40 million photos every day. 98% of the top 100 brands in the world who use Instagram have their images shared to Facebook further increasing their social media reach.