Social Media is no longer a term a ‘concept’ or an ‘app’ used by the school and college-going younger crowd. It is, in fact, a very serious business where billions of dollars are at stake.
Today, concepts like the ‘ ‘Virtual reality’ ‘social networking’ the ‘Facebook’ has outgrown its image of people simply ‘hanging-out’. These have emerged from the platform where you only had fun or spend some time enjoying the games, videos or wishing a friend ‘happy birthday’.
It would be a ‘disrespect’ to the topic if we did not mention the contribution of Paris Hilton, who was the original ‘selfie queen’ or the invasion of the Kardashian’s into our living rooms and our lives through the window of social media application development. But that was yet to come.
The business giants have realized the potential of social media and what it can do for a brand. Those who were smart enough to ‘use’ it the right way have emerged as champions in the market and are a mile ahead of their peers. One often wonders, as to why was there this strange ‘time-stagnation’ that occurred before people took social media seriously?
Well, maybe it was something to do with ‘not truly understanding’ what it is all about. It is important to understand the terminology and also necessary to differentiate it from similar yet different concepts like Web 2.0 and User Generated Content.
This is an essential step, as it will allow the user or the participating partners to know where and how to apply the concept when dealing with various aspects like blogs, content communities, Virtual game worlds, social networking sites, virtual game worlds, and the virtual social worlds.
The specter of social media
The early ’90s and the 2000s saw a huge rise in the number of social media users worldwide. It is reported that a leading social media giant had 175 million users, which is almost as big as a population of a country.
This put to perspective as to what made the world suddenly sit-up and take notice of the social media movement suddenly? At the time, it was estimated that 10 hours of content were being uploaded by the minute.
The other notable moment was the fact that ‘Flickr’ had gained access to over 3 billion photographs! This led the experts to conclude that ‘the social media’ movement was all about visibility, accessibility and rapid flow of information across channels in a matter of minutes or even seconds.
The speed of connectivity is one of the most important driven aspects that rule the ‘need’ to use a certain social media platform and accessibility coming on second in line.
The major turnout that caused the business world to ‘take a leap’ into this crowing trend was the connectivity it offered, the audience it reached out to and the flow of information that it caused simultaneously. This was observed by the trends in online shopping sites, social media accounts, blogs, and review writing to name a few.
This soon caused a massive involvement of ‘market’ of all sorts to include themselves into the online space, whether the business existed previously or not was longer relevant; as every business saw a huge potential in the power of social media.
This is quite a long way that the internet has traveled, considering that the Internet was meant to be a simple ‘Bulletin Board’ where information and messages ‘just hung up’. This was exclusive access to a ‘secluded group’ who could exchange messages and information through certain software.
It was only after the Internet transformed into the ‘World Wide Web’ that the rapid flow of information, exchange of messages and display of thought could easily be done using the internet.
This is perhaps the early ‘base’ of the Web blog or the Blog as we know of today, where the user can display and express all that they want to about their private lives, travels, interests, dating time to name a few.
This was a while before the ‘birth’ of the social media app development, which bought the entire world into a tight-fisted ball where nothing seemed private and all was left to be judged.
Social media: understanding it better
In order to better understand the concept of social media and what it is not; it will be necessary to differentiate it from ‘Web 2.0’ or the ‘User Generated Content’.
To gain a better understanding it is important to travel back in time and observe the humble origins of social media as we know of today.
Before Mark Zuckerberg was crowned the pioneer and the icon of social media; it was in fact the joint attempts of two college students Bruce and Susan Abelson who launched the ‘Open Dairy’.
This was an innocent yet innovative platform where the people who ‘wrote diaries’ in real life could join together online and exchange their stories.
The term ‘Blog’ or ‘Weblog’ was coined around the same time and was soon shortened to ‘weblog’ by a user at the time. It was the introduction of high-speed internet access that allowed the platform to be revived in the launch of networking sites like Facebook and Myspace.
This is also the main reason for the development of the mobile app development that came in to being in the following years.
The latest offering of the internet and the raging popularity of the ‘online world’ has been the ‘Virtual reality’ or the Virtual world. These are basically simulated environments that are computer-based and inhibited by the 3D avatars.
Before we get into understanding social media, it is important to take a glance at Web 2.0 and the User Generated Content. The main concept of Web 2.0 was established with which the users began ‘perceiving’ the ‘world wide web’.
This essentially was a platform that was not under the control of any particular individual or individuals but was under continuous modification by the users themselves.
This was essentially assisted by software such as Adobe Flash, RSS, and AJAX. So, it is safe to say that it was the ‘Web 2.0’ that laid the foundation of the social media and the subsequent on demand app development that emerged soon.
Likewise, the concept of User Generated Content is the amalgamation of all the manners in which social media is ‘used’. The term came to existence in the year 2005 and is used to describe the innumerable media content which is publicly available or created by the users of the platform. For this to occur, three basic requirements need to be met:
- The UGC has to be present on a website that is publicly accessible.
- It needs to be present on a social networking site that is accessible to users.
- Should be creative enough
- It needs to be external to any form of professional and routine aspects
These conditions basically are exclusive of email exchanges, or replications of existing content and any form of content that has been created according to the commercial context in mind.
So essentially, UGC has been the base of the rise of social media with the appropriate combination of technological drivers which includes broadband availability, economic drivers that involve easily available tools, and social drivers which includes the group of younger people with the technical know-how.
Therefore, in a nutshell, it is safe to define Social Media as a collection of applications that are internet-based which are related to the technological foundations of Web 2.0; along with the exchange that is offered through the platform of the User Generated Content. This is also the pioneer in the idea of the social media applications that soon took over our lives.
Elements of Social Media
While ‘Social Media’ appears to be an umbrella term, it sure is a lot more than that. In fact, Social media can be determined by two basic elements of categorization: Media Research and Social Processes. These categories include:
- Media Research: media richness and social presence
- Social Processes: Self-presentation, Self-disclosure
According to the above two criteria of social richness and media presence, collaborative projects such as Wikipedia are on the ‘lowest scores. This is mainly because the exchange is relatively limited and exclusive to only a few in authority.
The next in the score above is the ‘Content Communities’ like YouTube and Facebook. This is because of the rapid flow and exchange of information and communications through these channels.
The top score is held by the Virtual Games and Social worlds like the World of Warcraft and Second Life. These are ranked according to the self-disclosure that is offered and provided by the users in order to access them.
So, in a way, the more ‘self’ invested in a certain platform more is the score of that social channel. Perhaps this is what has led to the huge market for the development of the apps for social media, as this would allow you to be able to invest yourself in your choice of social media while you are on the go.
The criteria of Media Research and Social Processes have led to the further ‘branching’ of social media. This has led to the emergence of social media types and how relevant they are.
The challenges and opportunities of social media
- Collaborative Projects
- The Blogs
- Content communities
- Social networking sites
This can be termed as the most democratic form of ‘User Generated Content’. The collaborative projects are all about the simultaneous and conjoint contribution to the content by the end-users.
This has led to the top firms in forecasting the potential of the collaborative projects in emerging as the primary source of information as regarded by the consumers or users.
This essentially focuses on the fact that most of the information that is offered on a collaborative project is believed to be true. This can be on a downside as any ‘fleeting’ information can be taken more seriously than required by the users, which can impact the desired results.
On a more positive note, this same platform can be used by the companies and brands to stay informed about project updates and trade ideas. Though the increasing popularity of social media, many companies and firms have starting focus on social media application development.
These are perhaps the ‘ancestors’ of the Social Media and are essential websites that display stamped entries in the reverse chronological order.
The concept and the use of blogs are vast, these can range from a ‘personal entry’ about a writer or author and it could include all the required information relevant to a certain topic or idea.
The blogs are owned individually, but also offer an open channel for interaction with other people and users as well. This is done through the inputs of comments and reviews. Interestingly, the original version of the ‘text-based blogs’ is still in existence and offers an insight into the roots of the Blog as we know of now.
The potential of the blogs has been well-recognized by the firms, as this is one of the most widely used platforms to update about the important developments required by the shareholders, partners, and customers. This is considered good as it offers the users to perceive a certain business to be ‘transparent’ thus, trustworthy.
However, on a downside, as it is a collaborative project in nature, a dissatisfied customer can upload a criticizing view or complaints, thus, leading to bad publicity for the brand.
The blogs have, however, taken over the fancies of most individuals and today there are mobile app development tools to further enhance the trend.
Content Communities is referred to as the sharing of media content amongst users. The main importance of the existence of the content community is the wide range of media types available.
This does not require the users to create a detailed profile with all the information. The very basic information, if at all, required usually consists of the joining date and the videos shared on the platform. This has a downside, especially for the corporate world, where there is a risk of the copyright content being shared.
Majorly, the content communities, have guidelines and protective measures to regulate such behavior. However, there have been cases where videos have been circulated over such platforms before or immediately after being aired legally.
The advantage of such communities is the fact that with the rising popularity, these emerge as contact channels that can be referred to by the interested firms.
This platform also allows the brands to make important announcements, make speeches and share press announcements. This further encourages the brand promotion, enhances user engagement with the product and also to keep oneself updated about the latest in the company going on.
Social networking sites
This is basically a platform that allows the users to form connectivity with each other through the exchange of messages instantly, sending and receiving emails and allowing the friends to gain access to their profiles through the channels of ‘invites’.
The connectivity is established through the creation of a user’s profile which comprises the information and details of the user. With the emergence of social networking sites and its popularity has given rise to social media applications that make the users’ accessibility easy.
Usually, the sites have profiles that have various aspects of interest about a certain user that they wish to share with the world. The engagement is constant in this case and the popularity is weighted by the number of people visiting a certain profile. So, in a way you need to be interesting to be popular.
The content of the profiles can range from Videos, audio files, or blogs and photos. The ‘rise’ of social media has been sensationalized beyond belief. This has led to the various leading and emerging brands to create ‘brand communities’ for marketing and promotion purposes.
This has led to certain firms to utilize social networking sites as ‘distribution’ channels. Social media fame and fortunes are plentiful. Today with access to high-speed internet at almost every corner of the world and easy access to any platform of your choice, a person can become a ‘social media star’ in no time.
This has led to many people or situations going viral in no time. The advantage of social networking sites is that in no time, any news can be broadcasted and reach out to the audiences all over.
This has brought to ‘justice’ and exposed many aspects of society. Due to its several benefits and raising demand, the demand for social media app development is also increasing day by day.
Also, whenever there are pros, there are cons too. Similarly, the disadvantage, on the other hand, is the rapid circulation of the ‘wrongly’ fabricated news. This can break an image and bring down brands in no time.
This has called for the need of social media policing where certain accountability can be attained. Therefore, it is always said, “Use Social Media wisely”.