The evolution of social media is very broad but really an interesting topic which you will feel excited to know. This post is wholly dedicated to make you fully aware of the advent of social media that how it has been evolved and become the base of success for every phenomenon in the last decade. We will make you walk through the every detail of social media either, its evolution, its types, its importance in day today life, its characteristics as well as all the milestones set in the social media in the last decade.
Actually social media are the means for exchanging information or starting conversation with each other using digital technologies like mobile or Internet based applications. In short and precise manner we can say that, it is a medium for social interaction. So, let’s see it in more detail.
It is understood that, in this world where relationships are very delicate and dealings are very difficult to make, we need some accessible and feasible techniques at every step so that we can easily communicate with each other and participate in social interaction or conversations. In current scenario, social media serves this purpose which has become the integral part of the modern society. These days, life cannot be imagined without the presence of social media. It has huge future prospects and has opened the door of many possibilities for youngsters of the new generation. In other words we can say that Social media is a blend of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value and are capable of reaching audiences all over the world.
The Evolution of Social Media
Social media has came into existence since the days of the telegraph and even the more recent days of Internet-relay chats (IRC), and from then it continues to evolve in regular manner. Although, it has remained the base of success and the topic of discussion since its evolution, but in the last few years, it has become a convention of the online landscape. All the major social networks and social media websites continues making changes and improvements on a fairly regular basis and also it is expected that it will keep evolving and in few coming years it will take the massive form.
Social media has been proved quite effective for building social authority; individuals or organizations can establish themselves as experts in their fields, and in this way they can spread their influence all over the world specializing in their fields. The presence of the most of the celebrities are frequently found on social media; celebrities regularly update their statuses and interact with fans on social network like Twitter, Facebook and others.
Different Types of Social Media
As we have already discussed that Social media is very vast term, it appears to us in several forms including Internet forums, micro blogging, wikis, podcasts, photograph or picture sharing, video rating and social bookmarking etc. Basically, it is a form of mass media and hence can be used for interactive, informational, educational or promotional purposes. So, let us explore different types of Social media.
Blogging are the most common form of Social Media and is ordinary feature of the Internet. It is here, where users create their own blog domains writing either about their personal lives or specializing in topics from widespread areas such as music, food, religion, health, travel, product news and reviews and so on and then display their self-made content on the blogging platform. Although, in this kind of social media, there is no need to have any kind of expertise, but profound acquaintance of the subject matter leads to the success. Blogs are made superior by media uploads, widgets, streaming radio, podcasts, and advertising and many other techniques.
Social networking is one of the most important kinds of social media which is based on the concept that users with profiles on social-networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace can connect to friends, join groups, learn about events to attend, buy tickets, play games, chat with friends and more. Users may also put up pictures and videos and interact with friends and family at times and places that are convenient to them through the social networking sites.
Emailing and Chatting
Chatting and emailing is the most common form of social media which you all must have come across. Chatting and emailing through instant messenger or site like MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail has become the instantaneous way of keeping in touch with dear ones who are away. As it also don’t require any depth knowledge of Internet inner workings and are easy to access. Nowadays video conferencing has also become the part of it.
News providers such as television networks, newspapers, etc. typically come in the category of social media. These news providers such as CNN or BBC have their official websites that run their latest stories and in this way provides platform on which users can voice opinions or start discussions.
Photo and Video Sharing
Photo and video sharing is also raising concerns playing lead role in social media. The emergence of this kind of social media has enabled the photographs or videos taken with digital cameras and cell phones to get uploaded by users to websites which can then be accessed by friends and family.
Music and Radio
Who don’t want listening music? The answer is nobody. The social media existing in the form of music and radio is the most popular and most liked among users. This form of social media has enabled everybody listening popular songs online on music websites or accessing the genre-categorized music collections and downloads available either for free or for purchase.
This one is most loved by gamers as it has enabled them accessing the latest as well as old-school video games online. Now, players can play with and against other players in virtual environments.
Social media also appears in the form of online shopping allowing users to buy anything from books to cars by ordering or bidding. See eBay or Amazon.com for examples.
Distance Education has also become one of the popular forms of social media. It has appeared as boon for most of the students as well as professionals who wishes to carry on their education while working somewhere simultaneously. Since most of the colleges are committed to interact with students online offering several online certification courses.
Characteristics of Social Media
After having discussion about social media, now here one question s quite obvious; that is what are those characteristics which differentiate social media from the other websites. After deep observation, it is found that one of its prime characteristics is its ability to reach audiences of all sizes. But it is not limited to this only and boasts of some other characteristics too. Some other traits of Social media are as discussed below:
1. User-based: Unlike the past content based websites in which the flow of information was in a single direction, and the direction of future updates was determined by the webmaster, or writer, the social networking websites in the current scenario are wholly user based as these are built and directed by users themselves. It is the users only, who populate the network with conversations and content otherwise the network would be an empty space filled with empty forums, applications, and chat rooms. And this is what the presence of users makes the social networks so much more exciting and dynamic for Internet users.
2. Approachable: Social media technologies are capable of reaching a global audience and hence approachable.
3. Interactive: Another chief characteristic of modern social networks is that they are so interactive; they are not just a collection of chat rooms and forums but contain several things such as network-based gaming applications etc and it is because of this that it is becoming the favorite pastime and means of entertainment for the people over the world. Also, it is more than just entertainment, as here one can connect and have fun with friends.
4. Accessible: Social media tools are generally available to the public at low or no cost and are easily accessible to the public.
5. Community-driven: Basically social networks are developed keeping communities or social groups in concerns. Thus, almost all the online social networks are community driven. On most of the social networking sites, you will also find sub-communities of people who share commonalities, such as alumni of a particular high school, or an animal welfare group. The community driven features of social media lets you to discover new friends within these interest based communities and hence reconnect with old friends that you lost contact with many years ago.
6. Usable: Most of the social media production does not require any specialized skills or training and thus anybody with access can operate these tools and hence it is usable too.
7. Relationships: The next important point of concern regarding the social media is that it blossoms on relationships. If you are on the social network, it is said that, the more relationships that you have within the network, the more established you are toward the center of that network.
8. Emotion over content: Another distinctive characteristic of social networks is the emotional factor. Unlike the websites of the past that focused primarily on providing information to a visitor, the social network provides its users all the information with emotional security and a sense that no matter what happens, their friends are within easy reach. This in turn provides a great deal of support in an otherwise unmanageable situation.
9. Timely: Social media is capable of virtually instantaneous response time and thus is very timely.
Exciting Moments and Milestones
From the time of its existence to till, several exciting moments came in the course of journey of Social media, during which it has also set several milestones. Now we are on the way to look back all those milestones which it has set in the new millennium. So have a look at the timeline:
LunarStorm is a well known advertisement-financed, Swedish social-networking website for teenagers which are operated by a company called LunarWorks. Although the site has grown up well in its early phase and it was estimated that by the year 2007, it was having 1.2 million members, but due to some lack of activity its popularity drastically dropped in June 2010 and finally on August 18, it has been shut down.
The concept of Wikipedia, a social media site is based on an openly editable model and serves as information banks for the user. It is a free encyclopedia of multilingual, web-based content and provides links to guide users to related pages that offer supplementary information. Since its existence Wikipedia has grown up rapidly and become one of the most popular and largest reference websites.
Ryze is a free social-networking website which is especially designed to link business professionals, particularly new entrepreneurs. It was founded by Adrian Scott in San Francisco. People can use this networking site to increase their business, build careers, find jobs, make sales or just keep in touch with friends. The site has a deep influence over people as it helps them making connections and grow their networks.
Skyblog.com is a renowned social-networking website that offers free Web space where users can create blogs, add profiles and exchange messages with other registered members. It was launched as a full-scale social network and was founded by Skyrock CEO Pierre Bellanger.
Friendster is a new kind of dating website whose prime objective is to provide a place for meeting new people that is safer than places used in daily life. It is said about this website that it was the first modern, general social-networking website which allow people to discover their friends, and then friends of friends, and so on in order to expand their networks. One can use this website for dating and discovering new events, bands and hobbies; one can also use it to share videos, photos, messages and comments with other members via their profiles and networks.
Photobucket is really an interesting website which was founded by Alex Welch and Darren Crystal. It is the first major photo-sharing website that allows its users for image hosting, video hosting and slideshow creation and after then linking them to websites like Facebook and Twitter. Apart from all these, this photo sharing website also allows users to share photos in public or in password-protected albums for which users get 500 MB of storage space.
LinkedIn is wholly a business-oriented social-networking website, which allows its users to discover inside connections, recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners etc. It comprises of several features such as groups, question-and-answer forums and advanced profile features such as real-time updates and so on. It is multi-lingual site available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
Plaxo is a remarkable online address book and social-networking service which was founded by Napster co-founder Sean Parker and two Stanford engineering students, Todd Mason is and Cameron Ring; it is the place where users can quickly import contacts from multiple websites, services and devices into an organized, single source. This site automatically keeps contacts up to date and in sync across the Web, Outlook, Mac and iPhone.
MySpace is one of the most popular social-networking website that allows users to communicate via private messages, public comments posted to their profiles and bulletins mailed out to their friends. This networking site makes it distinctive in comparison to other social networking sites in the sense that it allows its users to completely customize the looks of their profiles. This website has also launched MySpace Instant Messenger that lets users chat with their friends. In addition to all these it also includes the addition of real-time status updates and news feeds that show friend activity.
Hyves is one of the most popular social-networking website especially in Dutch next to Facebook having more than seven million unique visitors. Founded by Raymond Spanjar, Koen Kam and Floris Rost van Tonninge, it stands as strong competitor for renowned websites such as Facebook and MySpace.
A new revolution has occurred in the field of social media when Kevin Rose, Ron Gorodetzky, Jay Adelson and Owen Byrne founded a new social news website. It was founded by keeping in concerns that people could discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet. It enables Digg users sharing links to anything online and other users voting that content up or down. Besides these, users can also comment on content posted by others. But it should be noted that voting stories up and down is the website’s cornerstone function; that is the contents having maximum voting will appear on the front page.
Ning is a well known name in the field of social media which started development in October 2004 and publicly launched its platform a year later. It is an online platform for creating niche social networks which was co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini. It has around1.5 million existing networks of users all around the world.
Who would not be aware of the social-networking site Facebook that is operated and privately owned by Facebook Inc. It enables user to create personal profiles, add other users as friends, exchange messages and post photos and videos, join common-interest user groups or networks organized by workplace, school, or college and many others.
Orkut is a social-networking website having more than 65 million users, owned and operated by Google Inc, which is designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. It is the platform where, users share media and status updates and communicate through instant messaging (IM). The service is designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. It is one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil.
Flickr is an image- and video-hosting website where photographically inclined users share photographs. It is a well known Web-services suite and online community created by Ludicorp which is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. In a few years, from its launching date, it has become very popular and grown up into a huge social network.
YouTube was the first major video-hosting and sharing website. Users can upload videos (each up to 10 minutes long) and share them through YouTube or by embedding them on other websites (social networks, blogs, forums etc).YouTube now allows users to upload high-definition (HD) videos and recently launched a service to provide TV shows and movies under license from their copyright holders. YouTube’s major social features include ratings, comments, and the option to subscribe to the channels of other users.
Twitter is a well known micro-blogging site owned and operated by Twitter Inc where users send and read messages called “tweets”; tweets actually are text-based posts displayed on a user’s profile page. Tweets are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict message delivery to just their followers. Twitter surrounds a large number of well-known users, including celebrities and politicians too.
It is most popular site which has become the first choice for celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Soleil Moon Frye. Here, viewers can post comments and ask questions directly to the feed host during live broadcasts. This kind of interactivity keep the users engaged.
Tumblr is a feature-rich, free blog-hosting platform that offers professional and fully customizable templates, bookmarklets, photos, mobile apps and a social network. Here, users can post photos, video, text, audio, links, conversations and other content on blog-like websites. Having 75,000 bloggers during its launching year, it serves as a sort of a cross between a life-streaming application and a micro-blogging platform.
FriendFeed is a well known site which was created to consolidate updates from social media such as networking websites, bookmarking websites, blogs and micro-blogs. It was launched in year 2007 and recently purchased by Facebook. Here, users can integrate most of their online activities on different platforms such as Twitter, RSS feeds, and Flickr photos among others, into one area. This site was designed with a prime objective to make content on the Web more relevant and useful by using existing social networks as tools for discovering interesting information.
Ping.fm is a free social-networking and micro-blogging Web service which is based on the concept of posting exactly the same information in two places. It enables users to post to multiple social networks simultaneously and also allows sharing an update to a number of different websites such as Twitter and Tumblr at once, so that individuals who use multiple social networks have only to update their status only once rather than updating everywhere on all media.
Posterous is the most modern micro-blogging application which allows users to post content via email freeing them to attach either photos or MP3s. On this platform posting are done by logging in to the website’s rich-text editor. One of the advantages of using this site and which set it apart from most other social media services is that no initial sign-up is needed for using it. In addition, it also supports integrated and automatic posting to other social media such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.
Netlog which was formerly known as Facebox and Bingbox is a Belgian social networking website which allows members to keep in touch with others, create their own Web pages, extend their social network, publish their music playlists, share videos, post blogs and join groups. It is an online social portal developed by Netlog NV, based in Ghent, Belgium and specifically targeted to European youth.
2010: Google Buzz
Google Buzz is a fantastic social-networking and messaging tool which has came into existence on February 9, 2010 and that is integrated into Google’s web-based email program, Gmail. It enables users to share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments that are organized into conversations; offering them both options, either sharing it publicly with the world or privately to a group of friends. The main concern behind the creation of Buzz was Google’s attempt to compete with social-networking websites like Facebook and micro-blogging services like Twitter.
2011: Google Plus
Google plus is another grand social network operated by Google, Inc. which was launched on June 28th, 201. One of the key features of Google+ is that it primarily focuses on targeted sharing within subsets of your social group, which are what Google calls Circles. Actually, circle is simply small groups of people that you can share to, each with names like friends, family, classmates and co-workers. Also this networking site is integrated with number of Google products, including Buzz and Profiles.
Looking to the Future
Looking over the prevailing nature of social media all around it is expected that in the near future, it will soon put its influence on the electronic gadgets like phones or iPads rather than computer or laptop. Although, it is difficult to predict that what will be the next big thing in social media but there is no need to look into future to estimate its popularity; it has already become a necessary part of most people’s daily lives gaining popularity all over the world. The experts says that over the rest of 2011, the growing number of companies finally going beyond using social channels merely for building awareness and providing support. Social media engine will be used as fastest tool to make strategic decisions and execute objectives, marketing plans, product roadmaps and more.