Social Media: An Introduction

Social Media: An Introduction

Everywhere you turn in the Internet Marketing industry, you will find somebody writing about social media.  Some people claim that if you can master your use of social media, all of your marketing problems are solved.  Others argue that using social media simply takes more time than the results merit.  The truth, as usual, probably exists somewhere between the two extreme views.

The term «social media» refers to a wide range of Internet functions that intersect with what some people refer to as Web 2.0, a term that isn’t as much in vogue as it was just a couple years ago.

Fundamentally those terms simply describe an online reality:  the Internet has become more interactive than it was in the early days of the web.  In fact, this is a return to the pre-web days of Internet use. 

Prior to the development and wide adoption of hypertext, people used the net as a communication device along which information (research, games, software, music, ideas, love notes, family updates, etc.) were exchanged.  However, with the wide acceptance of hypertext, the communication patterns changed to reflect a model more like the older, mass media (radio, television and newspapers).  For the most part, the information flow was in one direction—from the webmaster to the web user. 

With the development of new technology, especially software development and the wider, cheaper availability of broadband, the web evolved to empower the web users to make contributions to the communication messages available.

The transition occurred in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way.  Some online stores and other web properties empowered consumers to assign ratings or reviews to products and services long before Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook.  Mobile phone companies provided text message service prior to the creation of Twitter.  Geographically distant academics created collaborative research reports using the Internet prior to the extremely broad and continuous authoring of Wikipedia.

We are certainly not at the end point of the development of social media.  We know that the evolution will continue, because we know that the technological innovations will continue (at an ever accelerated pace).  Further evolution will be stimulated by the demands of the users.

Think of the changes that the giant Facebook has introduced in just the last year.  Twitter is working especially hard to reinvent itself in some monetized version.  I’ll explore some of the likely trends in future articles on this site.