What Is Social Media?

What Is Social Media?

“Social computing is not a fad.

Nor is it something that will pass

you or your company by.

Gradually, social computing will

impact almost every role, at every

kind of company, in all parts of

the world.” Anthony Mayfield. (2008).


So Social Media?

The best way to understand social media is to see it as a way of transforming messages from monologue to dialogue. The internet has been a main source for new social media encouraging the world to share, connect, create, deliver, form and participate in this never ending world of conversations. The different mediums mean people can go from talking in an office at the water cooler Lon Safko, David Brake (2009) to being able to share and gather information at a faster rate along with having access to much more,

To break it down into context:

Conversations (being the key): Going from monologue to dialogue means we have moved on from traditional media such as broadcast to being able to reach a much larger audience and move away from one way conversations to two way conversations. People can voice their news, opinions and ideas on anything from any angle. Conversations have the power to make or break, new social media is effectively handing over power to the people so for brands they must be vigilant as they enter this new inevitable era for business.

Participation: New social media engages people, it brings people together and encourages them to participate whether it’s simply through filling in a feedback form, answering an online survey, opening an email or using a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter or WordPress. People may be worlds apart or in the same office participating online effectively bringing audiences and sources closer together.

People can upload pictures, their own movies or the clips of life experiences they have caught on their mobile phone cameras… everyone can be their owner publisher everyone has the power to be a force online to themselves or others.

Connecting: People and brands can connect with each other, common ground can be found and information can be shared. People love to connect and it’s never been easier. Connecting has a friendly persona to it, people are friends with brands for example Skittles which has 3,830,106 fans on Facebook Skittles. (1923)  and Disney has 3,269,300 fans. Skittles and Disney can connect with people everyday each time they visit their own information. Connecting gives brands a head start to get a buzz going on about them, a new product or concept.

Sharing: Brands and people can share their knowledge and lives on sites such as Twitter and wordpress which have a history of useful links and resources freely available to anyone interested. Sharing is being open and we could agree that openness is part of trust a key driving element for most organisations.

Sharing online can have its implications for third parties for example back in 2008 Robert Peston was the first to break the news story about Northern Rock having cash problems, this was soon picked up by other news media and resulted in queues of customers for days to follow wanting to withdraw their funds  Mark Fenton- O’Creevy. (2008). States of crisis can be achieved rapidly along with reputation damage making new social media a powerful tool.

Community:  Through participating, creating and delivering communities can be formed quickly allowing people and brands to belong to different social groups i.e. groups and organisations interested in science may subscribe to the online sciencemag or The New Scientist.

 Forms Of Social Media:

Social Sites: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Soundcloud are examples of social networking sites that allow people to communicate and share with friends, co-workers, family and the randoms!! Facebook has more than 400 million active users Facebook. (2010}.

Blogs: WordPress and blog spot are blogging sites that enable people to tell stories about particular topics or simply their lives, they are similar to having a diary only it’s available to the world. Blogs are a great way to show yourself off and put yourself forward for unforeseen opportunities.

Forums: A place to meet people with similar interests and discuss topics i.e. music, health problems and life experiences in general.

Podcasts: Free audio files i.e. iTunes.

Digital technology has allowed people share and expand on ideas and for business digital media has enabled them to increase revenue, improve reputation and become global.


Anthony Mayfield. (2008). What Is Social Medai. Available: http://www.icrossing.co.uk/fileadmin/uploads/eBooks/What_is_Social_Media_iCrossing_ebook.pdf. Last accessed Jan 2010.

Mark Fenton – O’Creevy. (2008). Has Robert Peston caused a recession? Social amplification, performativity and risks in financial markets. Available: http://www.open2.net/blogs/money/index.php/2008/10/17/robert-peston?blog=5. Last accessed Feb 2010.


Lon Safko, David Brake (2009). The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools and Strategies For Business Success. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Page 3-.

Facebook. (2010). Statistics. Available: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics. Last accessed Feb 2010.

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