Social media is a collection of Internet-based communities that allow users to interact with each other online. This includes web forums, wikis, and user-generated content (UGC) websites. However, the term is most often used to describe popular social networking websites, which include the following:
- Facebook - an online community that allows individual users to create personal profiles, share photos and videos, and post on each other's profile pages, or "Timelines."
- Twitter - an Internet service that allows people to publish quick updates and see posts or "tweets" of other users they are following in real-time.
- LinkedIn - an professional networking website that allows users to create profiles, post resumes, and communicate with other professionals and job-seekers.
- Pinterest - an online community that allows users to share ideas and photos with others by "pinning" items and describing them on their profile pages.
Social media became popular after the advent of Web 2.0, a collection of web-based technologies used to make websites more dynamic and enable greater user interaction. It has since been fueled by the growing use of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, which are commonly used to access social media services. In fact, most social media websites also provide custom apps that make it easy to view and post updates while on-the-go.
The growth of social media has also lead to another new industry, called social media marketing. This refers to promotional methods focused on social media rather than traditional advertising outlets. The goal of social media marketing is to increase awareness of a product or service by prompting users to like, share, recommend, or +1 a product or service. For example, phrases such as "Like us on Facebook" or "Follow us on Twitter" encourage users to promote a product or service online.