Social media can be defined as "interactive platforms via which individuals and communities create and share user-generated content". Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." I.e. Social media are social software which mediate human communication.
When the technologies are in place, social media is ubiquitously accessible, and enabled by scalable communication techniques. In the year 2012, social media became one of the most powerful sources for news updates through platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Classification of social media
Social media technologies take on different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. Kietzmann et al. present a Social Media Honeycomb that defines how these Social Media differ according to the extent to which they focus on some of all of seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups.
Mobile social media
By applying a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) Kaplan and Haenlein created a classification scheme in their Business Horizons (2010) article, with six different types of social media: collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter), content communities (for example, YouTube), social networking sites (for example, Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms. Social media network websites include sites like Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and MySpace.
Social media applications used on mobile devices are called mobile social media. In comparison to traditional social media running on computers, mobile social media display a higher location- and time-sensitivity. One can differentiate between four types of mobile social media applications, depending on whether the message takes account of the specific location of the user (location-sensitivity) and whether it is received and processed by the user instantaneously or with a time delay (time-sensitivity).
Managing social media
1. Space-timers (location and time sensitive): Exchange of messages with relevance for one specific location at one specific point-in time (e.g., Facebook Places; Foursquare)
2. Space-locators (only location sensitive): Exchange of messages, with relevance for one specific location, which are tagged to a certain place and read later by others (e.g., Yelp; Qype)
3. Quick-timers (only time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices to increase immediacy (e.g., posting Twitter messages or Facebook status updates)
4. Slow-timers (neither location, nor time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices (for example, watching a YouTube video or reading a Wikipedia entry)
Kietzmann et al. argue "corporate communication has been democratized. The power has been taken from those in marketing and public relations by the individuals and communities that create, share, and consume blogs, tweets, Facebook entries, movies, pictures, and so forth." Increasingly, the term "social business" is being used to try and suggest that engagement with social media is important and should also affect those working in sales, human resource management and research and development.
There is also an increasing trend towards using social media monitoring tools that allow users to search, track and analyse conversation on the web about their brand or about topics of interest. This can be useful in PR management, campaign tracking, proving social media ROI, competitor-auditing and engagement. Tools range from free, basic applications to subscription-based, more in-depth tools.
The Social Media Honeycomb framework defines how social media services focus on some or all of seven functional building blocks (identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups). These building blocks help understand the engagement needs of the social media audience. For instance, LinkedIn users care mostly about identity, reputation and relationships, whereas YouTube's primary building blocks are sharing, conversations, groups and reputation. Many companies build their own social containers that attempt to link the seven functional building blocks around their brands. These are private communities that engage people around a more narrow theme, as in around a particular brand, vocation or hobby, than social media containers such as Google+ or Facebook and also Twitter.
Social Media Statistics
There are various statistics that account for social media usage and effectiveness for individuals worldwide. Some of the most recent statistics are as follows:
According to a report by Nielsen.
"In the U.S. alone, total minutes spent on social networking sites has increased 83 percent year-over-year. In fact, total minutes spent on Facebook increased nearly 700 percent year-over-year, growing from 1.7 billion minutes in April 2008 to 13.9 billion in April 2009, making it the No. 1 social networking site for the month."
- Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online in the US.
- A total of 234 million people age 13 and older in the U.S. used mobile devices in December 2009.
- Twitter processed more than one billion tweets in December 2009 and averages almost 40 million tweets per day.
- Over 25% of U.S. Internet page views occurred at one of the top social networking sites in December 2009, up from 13.8% a year before.
- Australia has some of the highest social media usage in the world. In usage of Facebook, Australia ranks highest, with over nine million users spending almost nine hours per month on the site.
- The number of social media users age 65 and older grew 100 percent throughout 2010, so that one in four people in that age group are now part of a social networking site.
- As of May 2012 Facebook has 901 million users.
- Social media has overtaken pornography as the No. 1 activity on the web.
- In June 2011, it was reported that iPhone applications hit one billion in nine months, and Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months.
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world's third largest in terms of population, larger even than the US.
- In June 2011, it was also reported that U.S. Department of Education study revealed that online students out-performed those receiving face-to-face instruction.
- YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
- In four minutes and 26 seconds 100+ hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube.
- One out of eight couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media according to statistics released June 2011.
- One in six higher education students are enrolled in an online curriculum.
- In November 2011, it was reported Indians spend more time on social media than on any other activity on the Internet.