The social media revolution

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What is social media? Is it for me? What are the benefits and risks? Opinions regarding the use of social media vary, but there’s one fact we can’t deny, it has altered the way that many of us communicate with one another.

Social media is best defined as an interactive communications medium, the key word being interactive. It promotes dialogue and encourages the exchange of ideas and opinions over the web and/or using mobile devices.

A few years back email was the preferred communications medium; then along came Skype, IM (instant messaging) and texting, now there’s Facebook and Twitter.

Social media is far more encompassing than many realise and includes sites such as blogs, social networking, wiki’s, social bookmarking, photo sharing, video sharing, geographical tracking, and others. The variety of options can be overwhelming and trying to keep on top of its evolution even more daunting.

For those that aren’t familiar with all of the social media sites listed, here’s a brief SM 101 for you.

Blogs are sites created by a person or group known as a blogger(s) who share information, insights and opinions on a particular topic and often they will contribute to the sites of fellow bloggers. Some of you may remember the movie Julie and Julia that exhibits the power of blogging. You can find the blog that inspired the movie at http://juliepowellbooks.com/blog.html

Social networking sites these sites used to facilitate communication between individuals, businesses and/or groups. The most popular are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Wiki’s- Sites that contain information, generally used for educational purposes. Information contained in wiki’s can be altered by anyone so be sure to verify content. One of the most renowned wiki’s is Wikipedia.

Social bookmarking There are many social bookmarking sites that allow you to tag and organise favourite web pages and articles with a phrase you’ve chosen so you can access it even when the name of the website escapes you. Why not just use your favourites tab you ask? We don’t always have access to a single PC which makes the favourite’s option ineffective, social bookmarking also allows you to access your bookmarks from any PC and you can also forward tags to others.

Photo and video sharing- These are sites that allow you to share photos and videos with others, some examples would be Flickr (photo) and YouTube (video).

Next week we’ll explore the top social networking sites.

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Published Jan 4, 2012 at 6:44 am (Updated Jan 4, 2012 at 6:34 am)

The social media revolution

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