What's Social Media?
Social media is an umbrella term used for user-centric websites that facilitate people to create, share, and discover various information. Beyond that, social media gives rise to online communities, where people can connect with other individuals/groups globally based on shared beliefs, interests, or otherwise.
Today, social media exist in form of websites and online-based applications for various electronic appliances (e.g. computers, tablets, smartphones).
Key benefits of social media
The advent of social media has transformed global communications for individuals and businesses alike. Here are some of the many advantages social media brought:
- Speed of communication — social media channels allow to spread information all across the globe in a matter of minutes. It enables near real-time updates on what is happening in the world. On individual level, the near-instant messaging allows to easily maintain contact with friends or family from afar;
- Wide variety of content — social media networks host heaps of various information about virtually everything. It is very easy to find content to educate or entertain yourself, as well as engage in business communications if required;
- Business value — as a major communications avenue, social media platforms are a ripe landscape for all sorts of business-related activities — branding, audience targeting, customer communications and care, competitor analysis, promotions, marketing, lead generation, and many more;
- It's free — joining a social media platform is generally free, meaning anyone can enjoy the benefits as long as they have some time to spare;
Social media examples
Modern social media platforms can take on many forms, therefore focusing on particular kind of communication or content. Here are some of the most popular social media platforms of today and what content you can expect to see there:
- Facebook — one of the oldest social media platforms that has, arguably, started the rise of social media on global scale. Facebook features connecting with people, instant messaging, content and media sharing, dedicated pages for businesses, creation of groups, buying and selling of commodities, and much more. The main content outlets are direct messages, public posts, comments, images, videos, listings, and so on. As of January 2022, Facebook has about 2,9 billion monthly users;
- Twitter — one of the most popular platforms online, Twitter's content consists of short posts (with tight size limitations) known as tweets. Generally, people tweet opinions, ideas, or thoughts that occurred to them over the course of their day, as well as respond to other people's tweets with similarly sized posts. Tweets can include imagery and videomaterials. As of January 2022, Twitter has about 436 million monthly users;
- Instagram — a social media platform revolving around sharing photos, images, and short videos, Instagram is especially popular among influencers and various kinds of brands (think clothing or cosmetics). The main content there are posts with one or multiple images or videos, comments under said posts, as well as short videos available for limited time (Stories). As of January 2022, Instagram has about 1,8 billion monthly users;
- YouTube — the most popular video sharing platform in the world where one can easily find videos on anything — shows, guides, lessons, music videos, news coverage, and much more. Unlike some of the other entries on this list, YouTube's content is not length-restricted, meaning you can encounter 10 hour-long videos. Beyond videos themselves, YouTube features comment section, video description section, as well as Community section with short posts, polls, or images from creators. As of January 2022, YouTube has about 2,5 billion monthly users;
- TikTok — a relatively new and explosive platform, TikTok's content consists of short videos on any topic. The topic selection is very diverse, ranging from entertaining dance or meme videos to lifehacks, instructions, or analysis of current world events. As of January 2022, TikTok has about 1 billion monthly users.