Thursday, December 8, 2011

Q&A: What Is Social Media?

Defining social media and its use and effectiveness for business is an evolving topic. In May 2011, Heidi Cohen, a self-described actionable marketing expert and owner of Riverside Marketing Strategies, gave this definition of social media:

Social media are the platforms that enable the interactive web by engaging users to participate in, comment on and create content as means of communicating with their social graph, other users and the public. Social media has the following characteristics:

  • Encompasses wide variety of content formats including text, video, photographs, audio, PDF and PowerPoint. Many social media make use of these options by allowing more than one content alternative.
  • Involves different levels of engagement by participants who can create or comment on social media networks.
  • Allows interactions to cross one or more platforms through social sharing, e-mail and feeds.
  • Facilitates enhanced speed and breadth of information dissemination.
  • Provides for one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications.
  • Enables communication to take place in real time or asynchronously over time.
  • Is device indifferent. It can take place via a computer (including laptops and netbooks), tablets (including iPads, iTouch and others) and mobile phones (particularly smartphones).
  • Extends engagement by creating real-time online events, extending online interactions offline, or augmenting live events online.

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