Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features:
- Social media are interactive Web 2.0Internet-based applications.
- User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.
- Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
- Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user's profile with those of other individuals or groups.
Users typically access social media services via web-based technologies on desktop, computers, and laptops, or download services that offer social media functionality to their mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablet computers). When engaging with these services, users can create highly interactive platforms through which individuals, communities, and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content or pre-made content posted online. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals. Social media changes the way individuals and large organizations communicate. These changes are the focus of the emerging fields of technoself studies. Social media differ from paper-based media (e.g., magazines and newspapers) or traditional electronic media such as TV broadcasting in many ways, including quality,reach, frequency, interactivity, usability, immediacy, and permanence. Social media outlets operate in a dialogic transmission system (many sources to many receivers). This is in contrast to traditional media which operates under a monologic transmission model (one source to many receivers), such as a paper newspaper which is delivered to many subscribers, or a radio station which broadcasts the same programs to an entire city. Some of the most popular social media websites are Baidu Tieba, Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), Gab, Google+, Myspace, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, Snapchat, and YouTube. These social media websites have more than 100,000,000 registered users.
In America, a survey reported that 84 percent of adolescents in have a Facebook account. Over 60% of 13 to 17-year-olds have at least one profile on social media, with many spending more than two hours a day on social networking sites. According to Nielsen, Internet users continue to spend more time on social media sites than on any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media sites in the U.S. across PCs as well as on mobile devices increased by 99 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 66 billion minutes in July 2011. For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building a reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income.
Observers have noted a range of positive and negative impacts of social media use. Social media can help to improve individuals' sense of connectedness with real or online communities, and social media can be an effective communication (or marketing) tool for corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, including advocacy groups and political parties and governments. At the same time, concerns have been raised about possible links between heavy social media use and depression, and even the issues of cyberbullying, online harassment and "trolling". Currently, about half of young adults have been cyberbullied and of those, 20 percent said that they have been cyberbullied regularly. Another survey was carried out among 7th grade students in America, which is known as the Precaution Process Adoption Model. According to this study, 69 percent of 7th grade students claim to have experienced cyberbullying and they also said that it is worse than face to face bullying. However both the bully and the victim are negatively affected, the intensity, duration, and frequency are the three aspects that increase the negative effects on both of them
Social media has a history dating back to the 1970s.ARPANET, which first came online in 1969, had by the late 1970s developed a rich cultural exchange of non-government/business ideas and communication, as clearly evidenced by ARPANET#Rules and etiquette's "A 1982 handbook on computing at MIT's AI Lab stated regarding network etiquette," and fully met the current definition of the term "social media" found in this article. Usenet, which arrived in 1979, was actually beat by a precursor of the electronic bulletin board system (BBS) known as Community Memory in 1973. True electronic bulletin board systems arrived with the Computer Bulletin Board System in Chicago, which first came online on 16 February 1978. Before long, most major cities had more than one BBS running on TRS-80, Apple II, Atari, IBM PC, Commodore 64, Sinclair, and similar personal computers.
The IBM PC takes us to 1981, with a host of both Mac and PCs being used throughout the 1980s. Multiple modems, followed by specialized telco hardware allowed multiple to many users online simultaneously. Compuserve and AOL were two of the largest BBS companies and were the first to migrate to the Internet in the 1990s. Between the middle 1980s to the middle 1990s, BBSes numbered in the tens of thousands in North America alone. Message forums (a specific structure of social media) arose with the BBS phenomenon throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. When the Internet arrived in the mid-1990s, message forums migrated online, becoming Internet forums, primarily due to cheaper per-person access as well as the ability to handle far more people simultaneously than telco modem banks.
Classmates was one of the Internet's earliest social networking websites, appearing in December 1995, followed by Six Degrees in May 1997, Ryze in October 2001, Friendster in March 2002, LinkedIn in May 2003, hi5 in June 2003, MySpace in August 2003, Orkut in January 2004, Facebook in February 2004, Yahoo! 360° in March 2005, Bebo in July 2005 and Google+ in July 2011.
Definition and classification
The variety of evolving stand-alone and built-in social media services introduces a challenge of definition. The idea that social media are defined by their ability to bring people together has been seen as too broad a definition, as this would suggest that the telegraph and telephone were also social media – not the technologies scholars are intending to describe. The terminology is unclear, with some referring to social media as social networks.
A 2015 paper reviewed the prominent literature in the area and identified four commonalities unique to then-current social media services:
- social media are Web 2.0 Internet-based applications,
- user-generated content (UGC) is the lifeblood of the social media organism,
- users create service-specific profiles for the site or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization,
- social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user's profile with those of other individuals or groups.
In 2016, Merriam-Webster defined social media as "Forms of electronic communication (such as Web sites) through which people create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc."
Social media technologies take many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, microblogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds. The development of social media started off with simple platforms such as sixdegrees.com. Unlike instant messaging clients such as ICQ and AOL's AIM, or chat clients like IRC, iChat or Chat Television, sixdegrees.com was the first online business that was created for real people, using their real names. However, the first social networks were short-lived because their users lost interest. The Social Network Revolution has led to the rise of the networking sites. Research shows that the audience spends 22 percent of their time on social networking sites, thus proving how popular social media platforms have become. This increase is because of the smartphones that are now in the daily lives of most humans.
Distinction from other media
Some social media sites have greater potential for content that is posted there to spread virally over social networks. This is an analogy to the concept of a viralinfectious disease in biology, some of which can spread rapidly from an infected person to another person. In a social media context, content or websites that are "viral" (or which "go viral") are those with a greater likelihood that users will reshare content posted (by another user) to their social network, leading to further sharing. In some cases, posts containing controversial content (e.g., Kim Kardashian's nude photos that "broke the Internet" and crashed servers) or fast-breaking news have been rapidly shared and re-shared by huge numbers of users. Many social media sites provide specific functionality to help users reshare content – for example, Twitter's retweet button, Pinterest's pin function, Facebook's share option or Tumblr's reblog function. Businesses have a particular interest in viral marketing tactics because such a campaign can achieve widespread advertising coverage (particularly if the "viral" reposting itself makes the news) for a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing campaign (e.g., billboard ads, television commercials, magazine ads, etc.). Nonprofit organizations and activists may have similar interests in posting content online with the hopes that it goes viral.
Mobile social media refers to the use of social media on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. This is a group of mobile marketing applications that allow the creation, exchange, and circulation of user-generated content. Due to the fact that mobile social media run on mobile devices, they differ from traditional social media by incorporating new factors such as the current location of the user (location-sensitivity) or the time delay between sending and receiving messages (time-sensitivity). According to Andreas Kaplan, mobile social media applications can be differentiated among four types:
- Space-timers (location and time sensitive): Exchange of messages with relevance mostly for one specific location at one specific point in time (e.g. Facebook Places What's app; Foursquare)
- Space-locators (only location sensitive): Exchange of messages, with relevance for one specific location, which is tagged to a certain place and read later by others (e.g. Yelp; Qype, Tumblr, Fishbrain)
- Quick-timers (only time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices to increase immediacy (e.g. posting Twitter messages or Facebook status updates)
- Slow-timers (neither location nor time sensitive): Transfer of traditional social media applications to mobile devices (e.g. watching a YouTube video or reading/editing a Wikipedia article)
Although social media accessed via desktop computers offer a variety of opportunities for companies in a wide range of business sectors, mobile social media, which users are accessing when they are "on the go" via tablet computer or smartphone can take advantage of the location- and time-sensitive awareness of users. Mobile social media tools can be used for marketing research, communication, sales promotions/discounts, and relationship development/loyalty programs.
- Marketing research: Mobile social media applications offer data about offline consumer movements at a level of detail heretofore limited to online companies. Any firm can know the exact time at which a customer entered one of its outlets, as well as know the social media comments made during the visit.
- Communication: Mobile social media communication takes two forms: company-to-consumer (in which a company may establish a connection to a consumer based on its location and provide reviews about locations nearby) and user-generated content. For example, McDonald's offered $5 and $10 gift-cards to 100 users randomly selected among those checking in at one of its restaurants. This promotion increased check-ins by 33% (from 2,146 to 2,865), resulted in over 50 articles and blog posts, and prompted several hundred thousand news feeds and Twitter messages.
- Sales promotions and discounts: Although customers have had to use printed coupons in the past, mobile social media allows companies to tailor promotions to specific users at specific times. For example, when launching its California-Cancun service, Virgin America offered users who checked in through Loopt at one of three designated Border trucks in San Francisco and Los Angeles between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 31, 2010, two tacos for $1 and two flights to Mexico for the price of one. This special promotion was only available to people who were at a certain location and at a certain time.
- Relationship development and loyalty programs: In order to increase long-term relationships with customers, companies can develop loyalty programs that allow customers who check-in via social media regularly at a location to earn discounts or perks. For example, American Eagle Outfitters remunerates such customers with a tiered 10%, 15%, or 20% discount on their total purchase.
- e-Commerce: Social media sites are increasingly implementing marketing-friendly strategies, creating platforms that are mutually beneficial for users, businesses, and the networks themselves in the popularity and accessibility of e-commerce, or online purchases. The user who posts her or his comments about a company's product or service benefits because they are able to share their views with their online friends and acquaintances. The company benefits because it obtains insight (positive or negative) about how their product or service is viewed by consumers. Mobile social media applications such as Amazon.com and Pinterest have started to influence an upward trend in the popularity and accessibility of e-commerce, or online purchases.[need quotation to verify]
E-commerce businesses may refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value for the business or organization that is using it. People obtain valuable information, education, news, and other data from electronic and print media. Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television, and film as they are comparatively inexpensive and accessible (at least once a person has already acquired Internet access and a computer). They enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information. Industrial media generally require significant resources to publish information as in most cases the articles go through many revisions before being published. This process adds to the cost and the resulting market price. Originally social media was only used by individuals but now it is used by businesses, charities and also in government and politics.
One characteristic shared by both social and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach no people or millions of people. Some of the properties that help describe the differences between social and industrial media are:
- Quality: In industrial (traditional) publishing—mediated by a publisher—the typical range of quality is substantially narrower (skewing to the high quality side) than in niche, unmediated markets like user-generated social media posts. The main challenge posed by the content in social media sites is the fact that the distribution of quality has high variance: from very high-quality items to low-quality, sometimes even abusive or inappropriate content.
- Reach: Both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and are capable of reaching a global audience. Industrial media, however, typically use a centralized framework for organization, production, and dissemination, whereas social media are by their very nature more decentralized, less hierarchical, and distinguished by multiple points of production and utility.
- Frequency: The number of times users access a type of media per day. Heavy social media users, such as young people, check their social media account numerous times throughout the day.
- Accessibility: The means of production for industrial media are typically government or corporate (privately owned); social media tools are generally available to the public at little or no cost, or they are supported by advertising revenue. While social media tools are available to anyone with access to Internet and a computer or mobile device, due to the digital divide, the poorest segment of the population lacks access to the Internet and computer. Low-income people may have more access to traditional media (TV, radio, etc.), as an inexpensive TV and aerial or radio costs much less than an inexpensive computer or mobile device. Moreover, in many regions, TV or radio owners can tune into free over the air programming; computer or mobile device owners need Internet access to go to social media sites.
- Usability: Industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. For example, in the 1970s, to record a pop song, an aspiring singer would have to rent time in an expensive professional recording studio and hire an audio engineer. Conversely, most social media activities, such as posting a video of oneself singing a song require only modest reinterpretation of existing skills (assuming a person understands Web 2.0 technologies); in theory, anyone with access to the Internet can operate the means of social media production, and post digital pictures, videos or text online.
- Immediacy: The time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months, by the time the content has been reviewed by various editors and fact checkers) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses). The immediacy of social media can be seen as a strength, in that it enables regular people to instantly communicate their opinions and information. At the same time, the immediacy of social media can also be seen as a weakness, as the lack of fact checking and editorial "gatekeepers" facilitates the circulation of hoaxes and fake news.
- Permanence: Industrial media, once created, cannot be altered (e.g., once a magazine article or paper book is printed and distributed, changes cannot be made to that same article in that print run) whereas social media posts can be altered almost instantaneously, when the user decides to edit their post or due to comments from other readers.
Community media constitute a hybrid of industrial and social media. Though community-owned, some community radio, TV, and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks. Social media has also been recognized for the way they have changed how public relations professionals conduct their jobs. They have provided an open arena where people are free to exchange ideas on companies, brands, and products. Doc Searls and David Wagner state that the "...best of the people in PR are not PR types at all. They understand that there aren't censors, they're the company's best conversationalists." Social media provides an environment where users and PR professionals can converse, and where PR professionals can promote their brand and improve their company's image by listening and responding to what the public is saying about their product.
Social media has a strong influence on business activities and business performance. There are four channels by which social media resources can transform into business performance capabilities:
- Social capital represents the extent to which social media affects firms' and organizations' relationships with society and the degree to which the organizations' use of social media increases corporate social-performance capabilities.
- Revealed preferences represent the extent to which social media exposes customers' likings (e.g., "likes" and followers) and increase a firm's financial capabilities (e.g., stock price, revenue, profit), or for non-profits, increases their donations, volunteerism rate, etc.
- Social marketing represents the extent to which social-marketing resources (e.g., online conversations, sharing links, online presence, sending text-messages) are used to increase a firm's financial capabilities (e.g., sales, acquisition of new customers) or a non-profit's voluntary sector goals.
- Social corporate networking involves the informal ties and linkages of corporate/organizational staff with other people from their field or industry, clients, customers, and other members of the public, which form through social networks. Social corporate networking can increase operational performance capabilities in many ways, as it can enable sales staff to find new clients; help marketing staff to learn about client/customer needs and demand, and teach management about the public perceptions of their strategy or approach.
- Influence on consumer decisions With the ever-increasing technological development of social media, this has affected consumers' decision to buy the product or service provided by companies.On the other hand, social media has become an important factor in increasing the sales of brands, whether large or small, since the beginning of the Internet revolution. There is much research to prove this, based on the actions taken by the consumer through 2017. There will be many reports at the beginning 2018 confirming the degree to which social media has become effective in marketing companies and the importance of focusing on them.
There are four tools or approaches that engage experts, customers, suppliers, and employees in the development of products and services using social media. Companies and other organizations can use these tools and approaches to improve their business capacity and performance.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to managing a company's interaction with current and potential future customers that try to analyze data about customers' history with a company and to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth. One important aspect of the CRM approach is the systems of CRM that compile data from a range of different communication channels, including a company's website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials, and social media. Through the CRM approach and the systems used to facilitate CRM, businesses learn more about their target audiences and how to best cater to their needs. However, adopting the CRM approach may also occasionally lead to favoritism within an audience of consumers, resulting in dissatisfaction among customers and defeating the purpose of CRM.
- Innovation can be defined[by whom?] simply as a "new idea, device, or method" or as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more-effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. The term "innovation" can be defined as something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that "breaks into" the market or society. It is related to, but not the same as, invention. Innovation is often manifested[by whom?] via the engineering process. Innovation is generally considered[by whom?] to be the result of a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that affects society. In industrial economics, innovations are created and found empirically from services to meet growing consumer demand.
- Training in social-media techniques, tactics and unwritten rules may not be needed for "digital natives", such as workers who are already comfortable and experienced with using social media. However, for workers who are not familiar with social media, formal or informal training may be needed. Brand management and engagement is done differently on social media platforms than over traditional advertising formats such as TV and radio ads. To give just one example, with traditional ads, customers cannot respond to the ad. However, if an organization makes a major gaffe or politically incorrect statement on social media, customers and other regular citizens can immediately post comments about the ad.
- Knowledge management could take place in traditional small businesses (such as coffeehouses and ice cream parlours) just by using the owner-proprietor's own memory of his key customers, their preferences, and their client-service expectations. However, with the shift to national or even multinational e-commerce businesses which operate online, companies are generating far more data on transactions for a single person or even a team to grasp just in their memory. As such, 2010-era global e-commerce firms typically use a range of digital tools to track, monitor and analyze the huge streams of data their businesses are generating, a process called "data mining".
Monitoring, tracking and analysis
Companies are increasingly using social media monitoring tools to monitor, track, and analyze online conversations on the Web about their brand or products or about related topics of interest. This can be useful in public relations management and advertising campaign tracking, allowing the companies to measure return on investment for their social media ad spending, competitor-auditing, and for public engagement. Tools range from free, basic applications to subscription-based, more in-depth tools.
Social media tracking also enables companies to respond quickly to online posts that criticize their product or service. By responding quickly to critical online posts, and helping the user to resolve the concerns, this helps the company to lessen the negative effects that online complaints can have about company product or service sales. In the US, for example, if a customer criticizes a major hotel chain's cleanliness or service standards on a social media website, a company representative will usually quickly be alerted to this critical post, so that the company representative can go online and express concern for the sub-par service and offer the complaining person a coupon or discount on their next purchase, plus a promise to forward their concerns to the hotel manager so that the problem will not be repeated. This rapid response helps to show that the company cares about its customers.
The "honeycomb framework" defines how social media services focus on some or all of seven functional building blocks. These building blocks help explain the engagement needs of the social media audience. For instance, LinkedIn users are thought to care mostly about identity, reputation, and relationships, whereas YouTube's primary features are sharing, conversations, groups, and reputation. Many companies build their own social "containers" that attempt to link the seven functional building blocks around their brands. These are private communities that engage people around a more narrow theme, as in around a particular brand, vocation or hobby, rather than social media containers such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. PR departments face significant challenges in dealing with viral negative sentiment directed at organizations or individuals on social media platforms (dubbed "sentimentitis"), which may be a reaction to an announcement or event. In a 2011 article, Jan H. Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy and Bruno S. Silvestre describe the honeycomb relationship as "present[ing] a framework that defines social media by using seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups".
The elements of the honeycomb framework include:
- Identity: This block represents the extent to which users reveal their identities in a social media setting. This can include disclosing information such as name, age, gender, profession, location, and also information that portrays users in certain ways.
- Conversations: This block represents the extent to which users communicate with other users in a social media setting. Many social media sites are designed primarily to facilitate conversations among individuals and groups. These conversations happen for all sorts of reasons. People tweet, blog, make online comments and send messages to other users to meet new like-minded people, to find a romantic partner, to build their self-esteem, or to be on the cutting edge of new ideas or trending topics. Yet others see social media as a way of making their message heard and positively impacting humanitarian causes, environmental problems, economic issues, or political debates.
- Sharing: This block represents the extent to which users exchange, distribute, and receive content, ranging from a short text post to a link or a digital photo. The term 'social' implies that exchanges between people are crucial. In many cases, however, sociality is about the objects that mediate these ties between people—the reasons why they meet online and associate with each other.
- Presence: This block represents the extent to which users can know if other users are accessible. It includes knowing where others are, in the virtual world or in the real world, and whether they are available. Some social media sites have icons that indicate when other users are online, such as Facebook.
- Relationships: This block represents the extent to which users can be related or linked up to other users. Two or more users have some form of association that leads them to converse, share objects of sociality, send texts or messages, meet up, or simply just list each other as a friend or fan.
- Reputation: This block represents the extent to which users can identify the standing of others, including themselves, in a social media setting. Reputation can have different meanings on social media platforms. In most cases, reputation is a matter of trust, but because information technologies are not yet good at determining such highly qualitative criteria, social media sites rely on 'mechanical Turks': tools that automatically aggregate user-generated information to determine trustworthiness.Reputation management is another aspect and use of social media.
- Groups: This block represents the extent to which users can form communities and sub-communities of people with similar backgrounds, demographics or interests. The more 'social' a network becomes, the wider the group of friends, followers, and contacts can be developed. Some Facebook users develop a list of friends that includes people from all over the world.
Social media automation
Bots and social media marketing
There are direct benefits of social media in the form of greater market share and increased audiences. To increase these benefits technologies that better facilitate social media marketing has been developed; an example of this technology is the development of bots.
Bots (short for robots) are automated programs that run over the internet. There are many forms of bots with varying behaviors. The bots most relevant to social media marketing are chatbots and social bots. Chatbots and social bots are programmed to mimic natural human interactions such as liking, commenting, following, and unfollowing on social media platforms. The ability of these bots to automate social media marketing needs has created a large demand and the establishment of a new industry of bot providers.
In addition to humans and bots, the third type of users are "cyborgs", described as a combination of a human and a bot, in an analogy to "real" cyborgs. They are used, for instance, to spread fake news or create a buzz. Cyborgs, in the social media context, are either bot-assisted humans or human-assisted bots. A concrete example of a cyborg in the social media context is a human being who registers an account for which he sets automated programs to post, for instance tweets, during his absence. From time to time, the human participates to tweet and interact with friends. Cyborgs are different from bots, as bots use automation, whereas cyborgs intertwine characteristics of both manual and automated behavior. Cyborgs offer unique opportunities for fake news spreaders, as it blends automated activity with human input. When the automated accounts are publicly identified, the human part of the cyborg is able to take over and could protest that the account has been used manually all along. Such accounts try to pose as real people; in particular, number of their friends or followers should be resembling that of a real person. Often, such accounts use "friend farms" to collect large number of friends in a short period of time.
Building "social authority" and vanity
Social media becomes effective through a process called "building social authority". One of the foundation concepts in social media has become that you cannot completely control your message through social media but rather you can simply begin to participate in the "conversation" expecting that you can achieve a significant influence in that conversation. However, this conversation participation must be cleverly executed because although people are resistant to marketing in general, they are even more resistant to direct or overt marketing through social media platforms. This may seem counterintuitive but it is the main reason building social authority with credibility is so important. A marketer can generally not expect people to be receptive to a marketing message in and of itself. In the Edelman Trust Barometer report in 2008, the majority (58%) of the respondents reported they most trusted company or product information coming from "people like me" inferred to be information from someone they trusted. In the 2010 Trust Report, the majority switched to 64% preferring their information from industry experts and academics. According to Inc. Technology's Brent Leary, "This loss of trust, and the accompanying turn towards experts and authorities, seems to be coinciding with the rise of social media and networks."
However, there is also speculation that social media is becoming perceived as a trustworthy source of information by a large number of people. The continuous interpersonal connectivity on social media has led to people regarding peer recommendations as a reliable source of information. However, this trust can be exploited by marketers, who can utilise consumer-created content about brands and products to influence public perceptions.
Main article: Social media mining
Social media "mining" is a type of data mining, a technique of analyzing data to detect patterns. Social media mining is a process of representing, analyzing, and extracting actionable patterns from data collected from people's activities on social media. Social media mining introduces basic concepts and principal algorithms suitable for investigating massive social media data; it discusses theories and methodologies from different disciplines such as computer science, data mining, machine learning, social network analysis, network science, sociology, ethnography, statistics, optimization, and mathematics. It encompasses the tools to formally represent, measure, model, and mine meaningful patterns from large-scale social media data. Detecting patterns in social media use by data mining is of particular interest to advertisers, major corporations and brands, governments and political parties, among others.
According to the article "The Emerging Role of Social Media in Political and Regime Change" by Rita Safranek, the Middle East and North Africa region has one of the most youthful populations in the world, with people under 25 making up between 35–45% of the population in each country. They make up the majority of social media users, including about 17 million Facebook users, 25,000 Twitter accounts and 40,000 active blogs, according to the Arab Advisors Group.
Most popular services
This is a list of the leading social networks based on number of active user accounts as of August 2017.
- Facebook: 2,047,000,000 users
- YouTube: 1,500,000,000 users
- WhatsApp: 1,200,000,000 users
- Facebook Messenger: 1,200,000,000 users
- WeChat: 938,000,000 users
- QQ: 861,000,000 users
- Instagram: 700,000,000 users
- QZone: 638,000,000 users
- Tumblr: 357,000,000 users
- Twitter: 328,000,000 users
- Sina Weibo: 313,000,000 users
- Baidu Tieba: 300,000,000 users
- Skype: 300,000,000 users
- Viber: 260,000,000 users
- Snapchat: 255,000,000 users
- Line: 214,000,000 users
- Pinterest 175,000,000 users
Effects of usage for news purposes
Just as television turned a nation of people who listened to media content into watchers of media content in the 1950s to the 1980s, the emergence of social media has created a nation of media content creators. According to 2011 Pew Research data, nearly 80% of American adults are online and nearly 60% of them use social networking sites. More Americans get their news via the Internet than from newspapers or radio, as well as three-fourths who say they get news from e-mail or social media sites updates, according to a report published by CNN. The survey suggests that Facebook and Twitter make news a more participatory experience than before as people share news articles and comment on other people's posts. According to CNN, in 2010 75% of people got their news forwarded through e-mail or social media posts, whereas 37% of people shared a news item via Facebook or Twitter.
In the United States, 81% of people say they look online for news of the weather, first and foremost. National news at 73%, 52% for sports news, and 41% for entertainment or celebrity news. Based on this study, done for the Pew Center, two-thirds of the sample's online news users were younger than 50, and 30% were younger than 30. The survey involved tracking daily the habits of 2,259 adults 18 or older. Thirty-three percent of young adults get news from social networks. Thirty-four percent watched TV news and 13% read print or digital content. Nineteen percent of Americans got news from Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn. Thirty-six percent of those who get news from social network got it yesterday from survey. More than 36% of Twitter users use accounts to follow news organizations or journalists. Nineteen percent of users say they got information from news organizations of journalists. TV remains most popular source of news, but audience is aging (only 34% of young people).
Of those younger than 25, 29% said they got no news yesterday either digitally or traditional news platforms. Only 5% under 30 said they follow news about political figures and events in DC. Only 14% of respondents could answer all four questions about which party controls the House, current unemployment rate, what nation Angela Merkel leads, and which presidential candidate favors taxing higher-income Americans. Facebook and Twitter now pathways to news, but are not replacements for traditional ones. Seventy percent get social media news from friends and family on Facebook.
Social media fosters communication. An Internet research company, Pew Research Center, claims that "more than half of internet users (52%) use two or more of the social media sites measured (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) to communicate with their family or friends". For children, using social media sites can help promote creativity, interaction, and learning. It can also help them with homework and class work. Moreover, social media enable them to stay connected with their peers, and help them to interact with each other. Some can get involved with developing fundraising campaigns and political events. However, it can impact social skills due to the absence of face-to-face contact. Social media can affect mental health of teens. Teens who use Facebook frequently and especially who are susceptible may become more narcissistic, antisocial, and aggressive. Teens become strongly influenced by advertising, and it influences buying habits. Since the creation of Facebook in 2004, it has become a distraction and a way to waste time for many users. A head teacher in the United Kingdom commented in 2015 that social media caused more stress to teenage children than examinations, with constant interaction and monitoring by peers ending the past practice where what pupils did in the evening or at weekends was separate from the arguments and peer pressure at school.
In a 2014 study, high school students ages 18 and younger were examined in an effort to find their preference for receiving news. Based on interviews with 61 teenagers, conducted from December 2007 to February 2011, most of the teen participants reported reading print newspapers only "sometimes," with fewer than 10% reading them daily. The teenagers instead reported learning about current events from social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and blogs. Another study showed that social media users read a set of news that is different from what newspaper editors feature in the print press. Using nanotechnology as an example, a study was conducted that studied tweets from Twitter and found that some 41% of the discourse about nanotechnology focused on its negative impacts, suggesting that a portion of the public may be concerned with how various forms of nanotechnology are used in the future. Although optimistic-sounding and neutral-sounding tweets were equally likely to express certainty or uncertainty, the pessimistic tweets were nearly twice as likely to appear certain of an outcome than uncertain. These results imply the possibility of a preconceived negative perception of many news articles associated with nanotechnology. Alternatively, these results could also imply that posts of a more pessimistic nature that are also written with an air of certainty are more likely to be shared or otherwise permeate groups on Twitter. Similar biases need to be considered when the utility of new media is addressed, as the potential for human opinion to over-emphasize any particular news story is greater despite the general improvement in addressed potential uncertainty and bias in news articles than in traditional media.
On October 2, 2013, the most common hashtag throughout the United States was "#governmentshutdown", as well as ones focusing on political parties, Obama, and healthcare. Most news sources have Twitter, and Facebook, pages, like CNN and the New York Times, providing links to their online articles, getting an increased readership. Additionally, several college news organizations and administrators have Twitter pages as a way to share news and connect to students. According to "Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013", in the US, among those who use social media to find news, 47% of these people are under 45 years old, and 23% are above 45 years old. However social media as a main news gateway does not follow the same pattern across countries. For example, in this report, in Brazil, 60% of the respondents said social media was one of the five most important ways to find news online, 45% in Spain, 17% in the UK, 38% in Italy, 14% in France, 22% in Denmark, 30% in the U.S., and 12% in Japan. Moreover, there are differences among countries about commenting on news in social networks, 38% of the respondents in Brazil said they commented on news in social network in a week. These percentages are 21% in the U.S. and 10% in the UK. The authors argued that differences among countries may be due to culture difference rather than different levels of access to technical tools.
Effects on individual and collective memory
News media and television journalism have been a key feature in the shaping of American collective memory for much of the twentieth century. Indeed, since the United States' colonial era, news media has influenced collective memory and discourse about national development and trauma. In many ways, mainstream journalists have maintained an authoritative voice as the storytellers of the American past. Their documentary style narratives, detailed exposes, and their positions in the present make them prime sources for public memory. Specifically, news media journalists have shaped collective memory on nearly every major national event – from the deaths of social and political figures to the progression of political hopefuls. Journalists provide elaborate descriptions of commemorative events in U.S. history and contemporary popular cultural sensations. Many Americans learn the significance of historical events and political issues through news media, as they are presented on popular news stations. However, journalistic influence is growing less important, whereas social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, provide a constant supply of alternative news sources for users.
As social networking becomes more popular among older and younger generations, sites such as Facebook and YouTube, gradually undermine the traditionally authoritative voices of news media. For example, American citizens contest media coverage of various social and political events as they see fit, inserting their voices into the narratives about America's past and present and shaping their own collective memories. An example of this is the public explosion of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida. News media coverage of the incident was minimal until social media users made the story recognizable through their constant discussion of the case. Approximately one month after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, its online coverage by everyday Americans garnered national attention from mainstream media journalists, in turn exemplifying media activism. In some ways, the spread of this tragic event through alternative news sources parallels that of the Emmitt Till – whose murder became a national story after it circulated African American and Communists newspapers. Social media was also influential in the widespread attention given to the revolutionary outbreaks in the Middle East and North Africa during 2011. However, there is some debate about the extent to which social media facilitated this kind of change. Another example of this shift is in the ongoing Kony 2012 campaign, which surfaced first on YouTube and later garnered a great amount of attention from mainstream news media journalists. These journalists now monitor social media sites to inform their reports on the movement. Lastly, in the past couple of presidential elections, the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were used to predict election results. U.S. President Barack Obama was more liked on Facebook than his opponent Mitt Romney and it was found by a study done by Oxford Institute Internet Experiment that more people liked to tweet about comments of President Obama rather than Romney.
|“||We worry that social media is kind of the virtual bathhouse. -- Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease physician, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department||”|
Criticisms of social media range from criticisms of the ease of use of specific platforms and their capabilities, disparity of information available, issues with trustworthiness and reliability of information presented, the impact of social media use on an individual's concentration, ownership of media content, and the meaning of interactions created by social media. Although some social media platforms offer users the opportunity to cross-post simultaneously, some social network platforms have been criticized for poor interoperability between platforms, which leads to the creation of information silos, viz. isolated pockets of data contained in one social media platform. However, it is also argued that social media have positive effects such as allowing the democratization of the Internet while also allowing individuals to advertise themselves and form friendships. Others have noted that the term "social" cannot account for technological features of a platform alone, hence the level of sociability should be determined by the actual performances of its users. There has been a dramatic decrease in face-to-face interactions as more and more social media platforms have been introduced with the threat of cyber-bullying and online sexual predators being more prevalent. Social media may expose children to images of alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behaviors[relevant?– discuss]. In regards to cyber-bullying, it has been proven that individuals who have no experience with cyber-bullying often have a better well-being than individuals who have been bullied online.
Twitter is increasingly a target of heavy activity of marketers. Their actions, focused on gaining massive numbers of followers, include use of advanced scripts and manipulation techniques that distort the prime idea of social media by abusing human trustfulness. Twitter also promotes social connections among students. It can be used to enhance communication building and critical thinking. Domizi (2013) utilised Twitter in a graduate seminar requiring students to post weekly tweets to extend classroom discussions. Students reportedly used Twitter to connect with content and other students. Additionally, students found it "to be useful professionally and personally". British-American entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen criticizes social media in his book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, "Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering." This is also relative to the issue "justice" in the social network. For example, the phenomenon "Human flesh search engine" in Asia raised the discussion of "private-law" brought by social network platform. Comparative media professor José van Dijck contends in her book "The Culture of Connectivity
Introduction to Social Media
When used properly, social media can be a valuable addition to a department's communications strategy. Because many employees have expressed an interest in developing and maintaining a social media presence in personal and professional capacities, the Office of University Communications and Marketing has crafted the following introduction to social media. Please read this overview prior to developing your social media presence.
What is social media?
Social media is an internet-based form of communication. Social media platforms allow users to have conversations, share information and create web content. There are many forms of social media, including blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social networking sites, photo-sharing sites, instant messaging, video-sharing sites, podcasts, widgets, virtual worlds, and more.
What are the benefits of using social media?
Billions of people around the world use social media to share information and make connections. On a personal level, social media allows you to communicate with friends and family, learn new things, develop your interests, and be entertained. On a professional level, you can use social media to broaden your knowledge in a particular field and build your professional network by connecting with other professionals in your industry. At the company level, social media allows you to have a conversation with your audience, gain customer feedback, and elevate your brand.
Should I create social media accounts for my department?
Only university employees who are authorized by their departments may use social networking to conduct university business. Before you decide if you will make an account, review what other USF departments are doing by looking through the USF Social Media Directory. Also, make sure that your department does not already have a social media account on the sites you plan to use. If an account has already been created, do not create another one. Instead, contact the current account manager if you wish to add content.
What social media sites should my department be on?
With so many new social media sites launching each year, deciding which one is right for your department can be overwhelming. It is important to be aware of emerging social media sites, and understand how they could fit into your communications strategy. However, not all social media sites will be conducive to your department's brand or marketing goals.
Before you launch an official account on a new social media site for your department, try it on a personal level. Create an account for yourself, and then use it. Study how other individuals and companies use the site. What type of content is posted on the site? Which posts are the most popular on the site? How often are users and companies posting?
Then, think about how your department would fit in. Just because you can be on a social media site, doesn't necessarily mean you should be. Spreading yourself across too many social media sites could dilute your social strategy, preventing you from using any of them effectively. Instead, focus on the social media sites that allow you to share your content with the appropriate audience.
What social media sites does the University of South Florida use?
While there are many types of social media sites available for use, the University of South Florida has established an official university presence on eight sites: Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. These university social media accounts are all maintained by the Office of University Communications and Marketing. Below is a summary of each site.
Facebook is a social networking site that allows people from around the world to network with friends, companies and organizations. Departments looking to build overall brand awareness should consider using Facebook. UCM maintains the USF Facebook Page, and frequently posts content, including videos, photo albums, event listings, links to news stories and more.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking site available to users with GPS-enabled mobile devices. Departments who host several events should consider using Foursquare to encourage students to check into those events and venues. UCM maintains the USF Foursquare page, where it posts "tips" and information about the university. In conjunction with several university offices and departments, UCM also maintains official USF Foursquare venues.
Instagram is a social networking site that allows users to share pictures and short videos using their mobile device. UCM maintains the USF Instagram account and posts campus scenes, current events and more.
LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site used mainly for professional networking. Departments looking to connect with their current employees or alumni should consider creating a LinkedIn group. UCM maintains the USF LinkedIn page, and frequently posts updates about job postings, academic programs, campus events, research projects, and more.
Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to organize and share content using virtual pinboards. With a large female audience, the website offers inspirational and creative content such as recipes, craft projects, fashion, and event planning. UCM maintains the USF Pinterest page, and frequently pins items such as Bulls apparel, campus traditions, residence hall décor, and more.
Tumblr is a blogging site that allows users to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio. UCM maintains the USF Tumblr site, and posts USF-related content, including pictures, videos, creative writing and more on a daily basis.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows people to post updates in 140 characters or less. Departments looking to engage their audience at a high frequency and have the resources to respond promptly should consider using Twitter. UCM maintains the USF Twitter Feed, and frequently posts information about campus events, university research, student accomplishments, USF news stories and more.
YouTube is the world's largest video sharing site. Departments with a videographer or high volume of videos should consider creating a YouTube channel to publish their videos. UCM maintains the USF YouTube Channel, where it posts the latest videos about the people, places and programs of USF.
I have decided to create an official social media account for my department. Now what?
Please contact the social media team in University Communications and Marketing for guidelines.
I am a USF employee and want to create a personal social media account. Are there any guidelines?
University Communications and Marketing has developed a set of guidelines for employees and faculty who wish to create individual social media accounts for personal or professional use. Please contact the social media team in University Communications and Marketing for best practices.