If you use the internet frequently, then you have probably heard of the term “social media.” Social media subscription figures have sky rocketed over the last couple years. Discussing social media has become more of a necessity than a curiosity for everyone. This article discusses the different forms of social media, popular websites to choose from, the value of these platforms and the impact they can have on businesses and general internet users.

Different forms of Social Media

Social media is a vast term. It is about communication, collaboration, multimedia, reviews and sharing interesting online content with friends, family and complete strangers. Blogs, forums, podcasts, picture sharing, video sharing and instant messaging are just some of the tools that people use to interact on the internet.

For communication, people generally interact through blogs, micro-blogs and social networking websites:

Blogs

Blogs are generally maintained by an individual who shares his or her thoughts, pictures and events over the internet. Blogs allow companies to have an online presence as well so that they can update their customers with the latest information. Some popular examples are Blogger, WordPress, TyperPad and Xanga

Micro-blogging

Micro-blogs are similar to blogs. Here users give short updates and sometimes provide a link to content they would like to share. Some popular examples are Twitter and Tumblr.

Social Networking websites

Social networking websites basically bring together different communities on one website. Some popular examples are Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Bebo, and Hi5.

For collaboration, people use Wikis, social bookmarking websites and social news websites:

Wikis

Websites based on providing knowledge through collaborative efforts by general users. Some popular examples are Wikipedia and PBWiki

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking allows managing and organising bookmarks of web resources. It also allows users to share their favourite bookmarks with others online. Some popular examples are Delicious, StumbleUpon and Google Reader.

Social News

News on these websites are submitted, reviewed and voted by users. Some popular examples are Digg, Mixx and Reddit. For Multimedia, people use photo sharing, video sharing, live casting and music sharing websites:

Photo Sharing

These websites allow users to upload, download and share pictures. Some popular websites are Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa.

Video Sharing

These websites allow users to upload, download and share videos. Some popular websites for sharing videos are Youtube and Vimeo

LiveCast

Websites in this space allow users to view different users in real time. Some examples are Justiv.tv and Skype.

How Social Media Works, and its Impact

When a user comes across any interesting content on social media websites, they can share it with friends, family and colleagues. This content might be further shared, creating a viral effect and helping to increase the popularity of that piece of content. It could also assist in generating back links to the website. This can give a boost to the search engine optimisation of a website and might also raise brand awareness.

The emergence of social media in the past few years has had a massive impact on both businesses and general internet users. Companies have started integrating social media strategies as part of their online marketing mix. Companies utilise blogs, micro-blogs, social networking websites and all other relevant methods to reach out to users and customers to keep them updated. There is a famous saying in PR, bad news travels fast, so more and more companies are making sure that they have a specific department set up for online reputation management. In some cases they outsource this to social agencies.

The impact on general users is quite phenomenal. Most internet users are linked to some kind of social media website. It has allowed them to share creativity, collaborate and come closer to their loved ones through the internet.

The Value of Social Media

Integrating social media as part of the online marketing mix is becoming increasingly important for businesses. If a social media plan is implemented properly, it can generate results instantly, creating a new form of communication and cementing a positive relationship with your customers.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and social media, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps content marketing strategy do for your business?