What is Social Media?
I’ve seen several answers to that question. Admittedly, it’s a broad, generic question. If MySpace is social media, and Facebook is social media and Twitter is social media, what about YouTube and Wikipedia?
Those are just websites, or outposts for interaction.
About.com broke it down like this: “The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.”
Elsewhere, I’ve heard that Social Media is a conversation. But when you have several thousand followers on Twitter, or hundred and hundreds of fans on Facebook, how can those tiny snippets of back-and-forth actually be called a conversation? To me, that’s a bit of a stretch.
Yet another comment came from a recent blog post: social media is “…the most overrated development on the internet.” The same person called it “simply a facility to get people talking” which seems to make sense to me as I regularly pick up the phone and call people I’ve met through social media interaction.
Social Media is nothing if you don’t make a connection.
The connection can start weak and be strengthened through effort.
So perhaps the best description of social media is that it’s a way to connect. It’s CONNECTION in real time with people around the world with some common interest(s).
With the countless ways with which we share the various aspects of our lives or even the fleeting things that catch our attention even for a moment or two, it’s hard to know where to draw borders. And I think we do have to draw borders or we’ll go crazy and spend waay too much time trying to connect on all platforms.
Some people connect easiest with Facebook. Others like to post tweets. Others say that LinkedIn is a great business connectivity tool.
Try them all and see what fits your approach and personality best. You may find that one platform is great for personal connectivity and another is good for business. Some may be useful for both.
When you do make the connection, take a few moments to respond and strengthen that connection just a bit. Those that respond in kind deserve a little more attention. Those that don’t may not – perhaps you really don’t know yet.
It’s all an experiment, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. What works for you may not work for your friends or colleagues and vice versa.
Social Media History
Here’s a great look at the History of Social Media complete with a photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak phone phreaking. Even before the term ‘Social Media’ became widespread, it was clear that people were using all means available to connect with other like-minded people. With today’s online tools and the mobile smart phone platform, connecting and sharing is more rampant than ever.