What is Social Media?

Social media can be very broadly defined as internet sites which allow the creation and exchange of user generated content. This can take a wide range of forms including:

  • Social Networking: users interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining groups and having discussions
  • Social Photo and Video Sharing: users interact by sharing photos or videos and commenting on user submissions
  • Social Bookmarking: users interact by tagging websites and searching through websites bookmarked by other people
  • Social News: users interact by voting for articles and commenting on them
  • Wikis: users interact by adding articles and editing existing articles

 Social media is a new and extremely fast growing field with new social networks and forms of social media developing all the time. This guide will give you an overview of the main social networks currently in use but if you are interested in reading more about social media and learning about new social media trends the following websites may be of interest:

Social Networking Sites

There are a huge number of social networking sites out there – a very brief guide to the most popular ones is below.

Social Network What is it?
Facebook Global social networking site, allows individual profiles and company pages
Twitter Microblogging site allowing users to share 140 character updates
LinkedIn Business social networking site
Yammer Enterprise social networking site
Flickr Photograph sharing site
YouTube Video sharing site
Instagram Photograph sharing/social networking site
Pinterest Virtual pinboard allowing users to collect and share images and links
Aurasma Augmented reality tool/visual search engine
QR Codes Barcode which can be customised to direct customers to specific internet locations when scanned using a smartphone
iTunesU iTunes educational service from which content can be downloaded
Audioboo Site for sharing short sound clips – 3 minutes max
Google+ Google’s social networking site – can be used by individuals or businesses to share content
Foursquare Location based social networking site allowing users to “check in” at particular locations and to earn badges and rewards. Companies can reward users with high numbers of check-ins at their locations
Storify Social network service allowing users to create timelines of information from twitter, facebook and Instagram.
Soundcloud Audio sharing site allowing users to create and share sound clips
Mobile App Smartphone application – can serve virtually any purpose
Podcasts Episodic series of audio/video clips
Blogs Short for weblog – basically an online diary
Slideshare Site for sharing/viewing presentations
Overseas social networks e.g. Weibo Social networking services for non-English speakers
MySpace One of the first social networking sites, now primarily used as a music sharing site
Reddit A social news site where users vote on content