SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media refers to websites and applications that are designed to allow people to share content quickly , efficiently, and in real-time. Many people define social media as apps on their smartphone or tablet, but the truth is, this communication tool started with computers. This misconception stems from the fact that most social media users access their tools via apps.

The ability to share photos, opinions, events, etc in real-time has transformed the way we live and, also, the way we do business. Retailers who use social media as an integral part of their marketing strategy usually see measurable results. But the key to successful social media is to not treat it as an extra appendage but to treat it with the same care, respect, and attention you do all of your marketing efforts.

A social networking site is a web application or online platform where people can setup their public profile and make connection with other people, called online friends.
Some common and popular social network sites are:-
  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Instagram
  5. SnapChat
  6. Reddit

Social Media Usage

Social media offers a collaborative space for social interaction between seemingly infinite numbers of people. Several benefits have been identified in relation to the routine use of social media platforms. “The six key overarching benefits were identified as (1) increased interactions with others, (2) more available, shared, and tailored information, (3) increased accessibility and widening access to health information, (4) peer, social, emotional support, (5) public health surveillance, and (6) potential to influence health policy”. Although there are several benefits associated with the use of social media , specifically image based social media , some uses of these platforms may lead to potentially unwanted effects.

Types of Social Media

Here are some examples of popular social media platforms:

  1. Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
  2. Twitter is a free microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users' tweets by using multiple platforms and devices.
  3. Google+ (pronounced Google plus ) was  Google's  social networking project, designed to replicate the way people interact offline more closely than is the case in other social networking services. This website is no longer offered to new users and plans to shut down remaining accounts in 2019.
  4. Wikipedia is a free, open content online encyclopedia created through the collaborative effort of a community of users known as Wikipedians. Anyone registered on the site can create an article for publication; however, registration is not required to edit articles. Wikipedia was founded in January of 2001.
  5. LinkedIn is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.
  6. Reddit is a social news website and forum where stories are socially curated and promoted by site members. The site is composed of hundreds of sub-communities, known as "subreddits." Each subreddit has a specific topic such as technology, politics or music. Reddit site members, also known as, "redditors," submit content which is then voted upon by other members. The goal is to send well-regarded stories to the top of the site's main thread page.
  7. Pinterest is a social curation website for sharing and categorizing images found online. Pinterest requires brief descriptions but the main focus of the site is visual. Clicking on an image will take you to the original source. For example, clicking on a picture of a pair of shoes might redirect users to a purchasing site and an image of blueberry pancakes might redirect to the recipe.

HISTORY OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Then and Now

Interacting with friends and family across long distances has been a concern of humans for centuries. As social animals, people have always relied on communication to strengthen their relationships. When face-to-face discussions are impossible or inconvenient, humans have dreamed up plenty of creative solutions. Avalaunch Media recently unveiled their Interactive Infographic entitled, “The Complete History of Social Media.”

The roots of social media stretch far deeper than you might imagine. Although it seems like a new trend, sites like Facebook are the natural outcome of many centuries of social media development.

Social Media Before 1900

The earliest methods of communicating across great distances used written correspondence delivered by hand from one person to another. In other words, letters. The earliest form of postal service dates back to 550 B.C., and this primitive delivery system would become more widespread and streamlined in future centuries.

In 1792, the telegraph was invented. This allowed messages to be delivered over a long distance far faster than a horse and rider could carry them. Although telegraph messages were short, they were a revolutionary way to convey news and information.

Although no longer popular outside of drive-through banking, the pneumatic post, developed in 1865, created another way for letters to be delivered quickly between recipients. A pneumatic post utilizes underground pressurized air tubes to carry capsules from one area to another.

Two important discoveries happened in the last decade of the 1800s: The telephone in 1890 and the radio in 1891.

Both technologies are still in use today, although the modern versions are much more sophisticated than their predecessors. Telephone lines and radio signals enabled people to communicate across great distances instantaneously, something that mankind had never experienced before.

Social Media in the 20th Century

Technology began to change very rapidly in the 20th Century. After the first super computers were created in the 1940s, scientists and engineers began to develop ways to create networks between those computers, and this would later lead to the birth of the Internet.

The earliest forms of the Internet, such as CompuServe, were developed in the 1960s. Primitive forms of email were also developed during this time. By the 70s, networking technology had improved, and 1979's UseNet allowed users to communicate through a virtual newsletter.

By the 1980s, home computers were becoming more common and social media was becoming more sophisticated. Internet relay chats, or IRCs, were first used in 1988 and continued to be popular well into the 1990's.

The first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997. It enabled users to upload a profile and make friends with other users. In 1999, the first blogging sites became popular, creating a social media sensation that's still popular today.

Social Media Today

After the invention of blogging, social media began to explode in popularity. Sites like MySpace and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s, and sites like Photobucket and Flickr facilitated online photo sharing. YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share with each other across great distances.

By 2006, Facebook and Twitter both became available to users throughout the world. These sites remain some of the most popular social networks on the Internet. Other sites like Tumblr, Spotify, Foursquare and Pinterest began popping up to fill specific social networking niches.

Today, there is a tremendous variety of social networking sites, and many of them can be linked to allow cross-posting. This creates an environment where users can reach the maximum number of people without sacrificing the intimacy of person-to-person communication. We can only speculate about what the future of social networking may look in the next decade or even 100 years from now, but it seems clear that it will exist in some form for as long as humans are alive.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of social media

The business benefits of effective social media use include:
  1. Brand awareness - Compelling and relevant content will grab the attention of potential customers and increase brand visibility.
  2. Brand reputation - You can respond instantly to industry developments and be seen as ‘thought leader' or expert in your field. This can improve how your business is seen by your audience.
  3. Cost effective - It can be much cheaper than traditional advertising and promotional activities. The costs of maintaining a social media presence are minimal. If you choose to invest in paid advertising, you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows.
  4. Website traffic - Social content can boost traffic to your website. This can lead to increased online conversions such as sales and leads.
  5. Evaluation - It is easy to measure how much website traffic you receive from social media. You can set up tracking to determine how many sales are generated by paid social advertising.
  6. Customer interaction - You can deliver improved customer service and respond effectively to feedback. Positive feedback is public and can be persuasive to other potential customers. Negative feedback highlights areas where you can improve.
  7. Target audience - Customers can find you through the social media platforms they use most. You can choose to maintain a presence on particular platforms that are in line with your target audience. For example, if you are targeting young people you could reach them through Snapchat. If you are seeking business customers, LinkedIn may be the best channel..
  8. Brand loyalty - You can build relationships with your customers through social media. This can help increase loyalty and advocacy.

Disadvantages of social media

Some of the downsides of using social media include:
  1. Resources - You will need to commit resources to managing your social media presence, responding to feedback and producing new content. This can include hiring and training staff , investing in paid advertising and paying for the costs of creating video or image content .
  2. Evaluation - While it is easy to quantify the return-on-investment in terms of online sales generated by social media advertising – there are some less tangible benefits. It can be hard to measure and place a monetary value on the brand awareness and reputation that social media can bring. It's difficult to know how social media effects sales in-store.
  3. Ineffective use - Social media can be used ineffectively . For example, using social media to push for sales without engaging with customers, or failing to respond to negative feedback - may damage your reputation.
 

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