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What Is Social Media? Part 1 – Service ONE Marketing In Phnom Penh

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Social media is a phrase that we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. So you can infer that social media are web-based sites that allow people to interact with each other.

It seems as if everyone has their own personal opinion of what social media is and isn’t. But let’s dive deeper into the general concept to gain a clearer and more precise understanding.
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Rather than define the term using a bunch of boring jargon that would probably only complicate things further, perhaps the best way to get a clearer understanding of it is to break it down into simpler terms. To start, let’s look at each word individually.

The ‘social‘ part: refers to interacting with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them.

The ‘media’ part: refers to an instrument of communication, like the internet (while TV, radio, and newspapers are examples of more traditional forms of media).

From these two separate terms, we can pull a basic definition together:

Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.

Yes, it’s a broad definition — but keep in mind that social media is a very broad term. This is likely as specific as we can get without zeroing in too much on a more specific subcategory of social media.

Common Social Media Features

The following list of common features are often dead giveaways of a social media site. If you’re questioning whether a particular site could be classified as social or not, try looking for at least one of these features.

  • Personal user accounts: If a site allows visitors to create their own accounts that they can log into, then that’s a good first sign it might be used for some kind of user-based interaction — perhaps social interaction. Although it’s possible to share information or interact with others online anonymously, having to create some kind of user account first is more of a common, standard thing.
  • Profile pages: Since social media is all about communication, a profile page is often necessary to help represent an individual and give them a space to create their own personal brand. It often includes information about the individual user, like a profile photo, bio, website, feed of recent posts, recommendations, recent activity and more.
  • Friends, followers, groups, hashtags and so on: Individuals use their accounts to connect with other users. They can also use them to subscribe to certain forms of information.
  • News feeds: When users connect with other users on social media, they’re basically saying, “I want to get information from these people.” That information is updated for them in real-time via their news feed.

Personalization: Social media sites usually give users the flexibility to configure their user settings, customize their profiles to look a specific way, organize their friends or followers, manage the information they see in their news feeds and even give feedback on what they do or don’t want to see.

Notifications: Any site or app that notifies users about specific information is definitely playing the social media game. Users have total control over these notifications and can choose to receive the types of notifications that they want.

Information updating, saving or posting: If a site or an app allows you to post absolutely anything, with or without a user account, then it’s social! It could be a simple text-based message, a photo upload, a YouTube video, a link to an article or anything else.

Like buttons and comment sections: Two of the most common ways we interact on social media are via buttons that represent a ‘like’ plus comment sections where we can share our thoughts.

Review, rating or voting systems: Besides liking and commenting, lots of social media sites and apps rely on the collective effort of the community to review, rate and vote on information that they know about or have used. Think of your favorite shopping sites or movie review sites that use this social media feature.

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