Many equate the word Social Media to Facebook but there is a lot more to Social Media than just Facebook.
What is Social Media anyway? In simple terms, Social Media is a digital tool that enables users to interact with each other by sharing and consuming information in the form of text, pictures or videos. Communication through the various Social Media Channels could be for the purpose of networking for business, lead soliciting for sales or simply interacting with family and friends. Since there are several channels with explicitly different purposes, it helps to know what these channels are and what they could/should be used for.
SOCIAL MEDIA CATEGORIES
Broadly we can classify Social Media Channels into the following categories:
- Social Networks – Facebook, Twitter
- Media Sharing Networks – Youtube, Instagram
- Social Bookmarking Networks – Pinterest
- Professional Networks – LinkedIn
- Blogging Networks – Tumblr, Medium
- Discussion Networks – Quora, Digg
- Review Networks – Zomato
- Chatting Networks – Whatsapp, Snapchat, Line
- Anonymous Social Networks – Sarahah
Clearly the most popular form of Social Media, Social Networks have evolved into an all encompassing medium to interact with friends, family, colleagues and brands. Facebook and Twitter have even replaced newspapers and television to provide news and videos, especially at times of natural calamity when regular means of communications have failed. The Chennai Floods of 2015 saw an army of social media volunteers who were using Facebook and Twitter to co-ordinate relief efforts all over the city. Similarly the famous Arab Spring movement was largely a result of closed social networking between activists. If you do not have an account on one of these, it is not an exaggeration to say that you are missing out on what’s happening in the world.
Media Sharing Networks:
These networks allow sharing of photos and videos primarily with accompanying texts. Users go here to share memories and “stories” from their lives, everyday events, where they are, what they are doing etc etc. These networks allow users to add captions, quirky effects to their media to make them more personal and enjoyable. The initial reluctance to share pictures have long vanished for users and Instagram and Snapchat are more popular with the millennials and Gen Z.
Social Bookmarking Networks:
These networks are used to discover, share and save interesting media content. Creative content seekers use these networks a lot for inspiring others and getting inspired. Crafts, Designs, Recipes etc are the most popular categories of content in these and women use these more than men.
Individuals and businesses use these networks to interact with each other in a professional manner. LinkedIn is the most popular one among these and is used for Job Search, professional network building, finding vendors and suppliers, searching and acquiring talent and for professional endorsements from other professionals. The tone of conversation here is more formal and businesslike. The focus is on work and career and not on personal likes and interests. This is a great network to build a personal brand for consultants and people in leadership roles.
This is again a personal brand building network where experts/enthusiasts write on the topic of their interest and publish for being discovered by others who share the same interest. WordPress and Blogger offer less interaction while networks like Tumblr are more focussed on sharing and interaction among users. These are not “entertainment” networks and it takes some effort for users to publish content here. Other networks include Digg and Reddit.
One of the major factors for the success of Twitter was that it brought celebrities in entertainment, politics and business in touch with the common f(m)an and helped in their interactions. Quora has been a huge success for a similar reason that it brings topic experts to share their knowledge on a variety of subjects. It allows answer seekers to pose questions to experts in any field and users rate these answers based on their usefulness. Quora has even created celebrities out of ordinary people by showcasing their knowledge in specific areas.
These networks serve a twin purpose of acting as directories for business discovery as well as rating service in the form of customer reviews. Zomato in India and Yelp in USA are popular examples where eateries are listed in each city where customers can review and rate these restaurants. High ratings create great opportunities for businesses while low ratings could ruin them. These networks have given a voice to the customers who now demand better products and services through their power to rate.
These are social networks that are more personal and intimate and enables text/voice/video chatting between users. Rise in the use of mobile phones has made these networks very popular. Brands don’t get to interfere much in the conversations here in the form of sponsored content and that has also been one of the reasons for its success. Businesses are also increasingly adopting these networks for team management and co-ordination.
Anonymous Social Networks:
These type of networks are used to gossip or to vent or to indulge in socially unacceptable chats (sexchats, fetishes etc). The recent popularity of Sarahah is testament to the need of users to remain anonymous while airing their views.
SOCIAL MEDIA STATISTICS
Facebook has over 2 billion users worldwide and about 465 million users in India. That is more than a third of the country’s population which means most people you know are on it.
Twitter has 320 million users with about 45 million users in India.
LinkedIn has another 42 million users in India out of a global user base of 500 million.
Whatsapp is another popular media with 20% of the global 1 billion users coming from India.
Indians are Social Media savvy, the numbers would suggest. But are they, really?
How many users out of these know how to maximize the benefits of these channels? Social Media can be a powerful tool to grow a brand or a personal profile, when used properly. This blog series is aimed at providing the reader with all the knowledge, tools and techniques necessary to exploit Social Media to further their professional and personal standing socially.