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  1. What Is
June 14, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:15pm

What is social media?

Retweet, Like, Pin and Share - billions of people communicate through social media. But can it be easily defined?

By Ellie Burns

Social media describes computer-mediated tools that essentially allow people to communicate in virtual communities or networks.

Users are able to create, share or exchange information, ideas, discussions, ideas, pictures, and videos in these networks, with these networks dependent on mobile and web-based technologies.

Defining what social media is in a clear and concise manner is no easy task. There are many stand-alone and built-in social media networks, all offering differences in features and ways of communicating. For example, Pinterest is a social network driven by the sharing of images, while Twitter is a network with a 140 character limit on text and image messages.

However, there are generally four common features that all social media services do share – they are Web 2.0 internet-based applications; user-generated content sits at the heart of a social media network; users create profiles for the site or app which are then maintained by the social media organisation; user profiles are connected to other individuals or groups which develops online social networks.

what is social media

Continue reading to see how many people use the most popualr social media service.

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Social media is distinctly different from traditional media such as newspapers as they are easily accessible and comparatively cheap. Anyone can publish or access information, changing the consumer dynamic with traditional media channels. However, some critics have observed that the trustworthy of social media content may be put in to question seeing as anyone can publish almost anything.

The most popular social media network is Facebook, counting 1,590,000,000 users as of April 2016. Launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook allows users to set up profiles and add other users as ‘friends’ in order to exchange messages, post status updates, share photos and join common-interest user groups – among other features.

The second most popular social media service is WhatsApp, with 1 billion users as of April 2016. WhatsApp provides an encrypted instant messaging service, which allows users to send text messages, documents, videos, and images over the internet. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for $19 billion – with Facebook Messenger being the third most used social media service; this means the Facebook Corporation operates the top three social media services in the world.

Social media is not just a consumer tool designed to connect individuals and share or exchange information. It has also become a valuable business tool, being used in marketing research, communication, sales promotion, and loyalty programs.

what is social media

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