Social media is a broad term used to refer to several interactive online sites and applications. People all around the world use social media to interact and socialize with users on various platforms.
Think of it as a big community with smaller communities within - it is a network of user-generated content on different sites and apps.
The most popular social media sites include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. Users can access social media through their smartphones by downloading the apps or accessing them through the web on their mobile devices, laptops, and tablets.
Social media came around right after the internet became mainstream. The first-ever social media platform was Six Degrees, founded in 1997. Six Degrees allowed users to upload profile photos and interact with other users on the platform. Among the types of social media sites we see today, MySpace and Facebook were pioneering sites. No two social media platforms are the same, but some overarching features make a platform a “social” platform.
Let’s learn more about the features of social media.
1. Photo and Video Sharing
Most social media platforms allow you to upload and share photos and videos. This media content appears on the feeds or timelines of other users that follow you or are friends with you.
While microblogging is not available on all social media platforms per se, it is a commonly seen feature on most of them. Users can upload short statements or messages to share with their followers or friends in the form of statuses or tweets.
This is another feature of social media that isn’t seen on all platforms but is pretty common. Stories are threads of photos or videos chronologically arranged that can be viewed for a maximum of 24 hours. Many social media sites and apps allow users to upload stories, record their day-to-day life or share urgent messages.
4. Direct Messaging
Many social media apps and sites have messaging enabled so users can communicate with each other without having to exit the application or website. You can send links, photos, videos, and gifs to each other through direct messages. Additionally, if a social media site has messaging enabled, chances are you can also create group text chains. Some platforms even allow users to unsend or delete messages on both ends.
5. Disappearing Correspondence
This is a relatively new feature that has been around since the advent of the popular social media app Snapchat. On some social media platforms, you can send each other photos or videos that can only be played once and are not viewable after you’ve closed them. This allows users to send each other messages without worrying about leaving a paper trail.
6. Following Other Users
There are many names on social media sites for users following each other’s content. Some sites have both ‘follower’ and ‘friends’ options enabled. Users can follow each other, see each other’s content on their feeds, and send each other messages. Additionally, if a person is bothering you, you can block their account, and they won’t be able to view your account or communicate with you from their blocked account.
Businesses can post their ads on social media that users can view on their timelines or stories. Additionally, companies can link their ads to e-commerce sites and stores directly from the app. Social media generated $89 billion of global ad revenue in 2019.
Most Popular Social Media Platforms
Here are some of the most popular social media applications and sites used most frequently by users worldwide.
The Bottom Line
Social media is one of the most popular ways people use the internet and communicate with each other. It allows people to connect through mere clicks no matter where they are in the world.
In the digital age, it is one of the best ways to market your products and help your business grow.