Why Social Media?

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You’ve probably heard of social media by now, but if you haven’t I will be covering the most basic concepts of it in this post.  Social Media is the new tech method of gossip and socializing.  The internet has enabled the human race to keep track of each other’s day-to-day activities without actually being in each-other’s presence.

In the past, we would take trips and call each other to talk about it.  Or we would take pictures and share the negatives in the form of home slideshows. But now all that information can be stored in a central location with access to the internet.  And can be accessed individually through any computer with a connection, such as smartphones, tablets, or desktops and laptops.

There are many, many companies that make use of the internet for the sake of social media.  However, because there are so many, I will only go over a few of the more popular sites and their purposes.  These companies include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Foursquare, and Nextdoor.  Each has a unique aspect of social media and each is at least somewhat popular in the sphere of social media.

Twitter

I can recall when Twitter made its’ debut.  I wasn’t sure how posting 160 characters from my phone or computer would make any sense.  But Twitter has come a very long way from its humble beginnings and has done what no other media of its kind has; given the individual a voice in the world.

Prior to Twitter one of the few ways to get attention was to grab a megaphone and make a public scene of some sort.  And even then you might barely make the evening news of the local television station.  Twitter gives a megaphone to anyone with access to the internet.

Although it might seem like a bad idea to give any random person a megaphone to the world, it turns out that the world is smart enough, for the most part, to handle novice on that scale.  There are two sides to every issue and when those who lack experience join the realm of the experienced, they learn quickly or disappear.

Facebook

Facebook is currently the third most popular website in the world.  It is only in third place to Wikipedia and Google.   It is the model for all current social media.   What is Facebook, you ask?  If you haven’t used it yet, it is yet another place to give people a forum, but not quite the to the same degree as Twitter.

In the not so distant past, it was possible to gain a forum for yourself on the internet through your own website.  Many people have done this and still do so without the use of Facebook.  But because Facebook is so well-known, many people continue use it as an extension of their primary website.  Many companies have pages on Facebook as way to draw attention from all the people who use Facebook.

The general idea of Facebook is to give you a place where your friends and family can find information about your daily life.   Although a website could do this as well, Facebook makes it exceptionally easy and offers the same familiar controls as everyone else.  It has unified the landscape so that everyone can use it in a similar and simple manner.

Consequently, in much the same way that people think of Google for internet search, people think of Facebook as the definitive place to find information about people and their lives.

Instagram

One of the most popular features of Facebook and Twitter is the capacity to post images to the internet that all may see.  Instagram is this sort of service, but it takes the idea a bit further.  Rather than merely posting whatever basic image that you have captured, Instagram offers a slew of filters (or image enhancements).

If you have a strong tendency to post images of your life, you may want to also post them to other sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If for some reason the images that you capture are dull or improperly lit, Instagram can help you.  The filters alter the appearance of the captured images either to enhance or modify them.

For those users of Instagram who are adept at photo capture and use of the filters, they will likely garner a strong following via the social media aspects of the company.  And as Instagram users can post easily to the internet, their collection of images become yet another social media source.

Yelp

We humans always seek out the best possible solution to our desires.  One of those desires also happens to be a need, that being food.  Yelp began as a site for reviewing restaurants and grew into a social media site for reviews of everything in public.  It is possible to review open spaces as well as businesses, and everything in between.

It is important however, that the information on Yelp is accurate and so there are aspects of the site dedicated to rooting out false reviews, that would pad or break the perception of a business.  Yelp turns to its users to moderate the reviews, asking that they rate the reviews in addition to the businesses.

Yelp is so well-known that to not be aware of its presence is actually a detriment to a business that is unaware of it.  It does however give the people a voice to rate and express gratitude or dislike of a business.  And in turn this social aspect gives others an idea of the quality of a business, requiring that the businesses themselves show quality service for quality assessment.

Foursquare

Like Yelp, Foursquare offers an aspect of review. However, Foursquare began as a social check-in company .  The creators of Foursquare recognized that people like visit businesses repeatedly.  They also recognized that some businesses were local hangouts.  As Foursquare is a mobile application, it gives people a way to see where their friends are at any one time.  But

In order to entice people to use Foursquare they implemented a rewards system.  Not only could a business acknowledge Foursquare, but it could make offers through the system, further inviting people to use the app.

Foursquare is a very social app and has gone yet another step further with their latest “Swarm” application, to give the users of the app an idea of just how close by are their friends. If you are in the vicinity of your friends, Foursquare will let you know in a manner of a certain distance via the app on your smartphone.

Nextdoor

Only in the last year have I become aware of Nextdoor, although the idea has been around for some time.  In the past Nextdoor was the rough equivalent of the Neighborhood Watch.  However, as the internet lends itself to multivarious uses, so does NextDoor via the internet.

It is possible to do a bit more than just keep your neighbors informed of prowlers in the neighborhood.  Nextdoor offers calendar events, classifieds, documentation, free items, and lost & found.  I have to admit that I like Nextdoor for the mere fact that through it I have met at least 30 of my neighbors.  Prior to it’s use I’d only met the nearest neighbors to my house.

At it’s base, Nextdoor goes beyond Facebook, while simultaneously sticking close to home.  It only allows you to gain access to the people who are in your local neighborhood, although it is possible to at least see posts from other neighborhoods nearby.

Conclusion

I may give a short overview of some other social media companies in the future, but this post was a good start.  To sum up

Click the name of the social media company to visit its website (above)

As always, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me via my email account wes@tekhandy.com and be sure to check out the Glossary for the new terms from this and every article.

Have a wonderful week

-Wes


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