What is Social Media? A definition

What is Social Media? Now there is a question commonly heard these days. Is this question asking how you use Social Media? Is it asking what the benefits are? Is it asking how to get started? What are the tools? Who does it? Which of my Peers are doing it well?  The list is endless.

For the purpose of this post, let's consider "What is Social Media?" at face value and consider what it is made up of.

Social Media, by definition, is the collection of strategies, practices and tools for communicating, creating, sharing and discussing news, information and other media online.  Social media is having far reaching impacts on online communications trends, consumption of news and, ultimately, the interaction of businesses with their stakeholders.  Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogging, Micro-Blogging and Podcasting all form part of the landscape that is Social Media.

Let's look at a visual overview of Social Media.

Social Media Overview.001

As shown in the diagram, online Media can take a number of forms.  It can be the written word (e.g. a blog arcticle, a news article, some song lyrics), audio (e.g. a song or podcast), a picture (e.g. a photo or a banner ad), a video (e.g. an ad, a talk show, a video podcast, a personal youtube video, a movie), or some type of interactive software (e.g. a game or puzzle).  There are many tools available to help you to publish, and in some cases create, media on online.  I've provided some examples of tools at the end of this post.

That covers the "Media" part of Social Media. The "Social" part consists of the tools that allow people to respond to what you've created and, in particular, the strategies for achieving some benefit for your organisation from those interactions.  This might be:

  • Soliciting and responding to comments on your blog (speaking of which, why not leave a comment below to see how it works)

  • Creating a Facebook fan page and holding and online discussion with some "fans"

  • Publishing a Youtube video and responding to comments

  • Finding a piece of news and sharing it with your followers on Twitter

This is the real power of Social Media for business.  The social interaction and the associated network effect of online social interactions.

Other Information


This article is part of a series on the different business facets to Social Media: