Social media can be loosely defined as the universe of websites where people can directly interact with each other and be able to exchange content and media on a one to one basis. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are social platforms where users can join and build their own individual networks of friends. Through the application software, people can share ideas, experiences, photos and videos instantly and directly.
Social media encompasses social bookmarking, microblogging and social news sites (like Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Slashdot, Newsvine and Del.icio.us), social networking sites (like Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace) and media sharing sites (like YouTube, Flickr and Photobucket).
The Evolution of Social Media
Social media has arrived to the Internet in a big way. Millions of users are connected to the Internet virtually full time with hand-held devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry or those using Android.
Social media has evolved to such a degree that it has made it possible for users to participate in fluid situations and breaking events simply by following threads posted on Twitter or Facebook. World events such as the election protests of 2009-2010 in Iran or the Syrian uprising beginning in 2011 involved heavy use of social media. Social media is ubiquitous and is here to stay.
Trust is Key
The credibility and believability of social media depends utterly and completely upon trust. If there is one concept that must be grasped by businesses and marketers who wish to use social media to promote their products and services is that without trust, people will not want to share your posts with their friends, thereby rendering your efforts useless.
Market Research on Social Media
According to market research, the two most important goals of social media marketing are increased exposure and increased traffic. As of 2012, 65% of marketers use social media to gain marketplace intelligence and 58% use social media to develop loyal fans and to generate leads*.
*Source: 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, conducted by Social Media Examiner (www.socialmediaexaminer.com).