Social Media is a 21st century medium that utilizes web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. This form of communication can take place in many forms:
- Social networking:
- Internet forums:
Websites associated with social media doesn’t just provide consumers with information, but rather, gives them the opportunity to interact in a two-way communication. Social media empowers participants, as strong emphasis is placed on sharing thoughts and experiences of individuals, often for the purpose of making a better or more-informed choice.
Findings from key research reports document how influential social media is in the last few years: Social networking now accounts for 11% of all time spent online in the US. 21% of U.S. adults online publish or own a blog, 55% of U.S. adults online have 1 or more social networking profiles. Reporters estimate that 57.5% of Internet users, or 127 million people, will use a social network at least once a month in 2010. By 2014, nearly two-thirds of all Internet users, or 164.9 million people, will be regular users of social networks.
The astounding increase in the amount of time people are spending on social media websites is shifting the way people spend their time online. These changes have implications for how people communicate, share and interact within their normal daily lives. As a result, the global media and publishing industries are faced with new hurdles around the opportunities and risks this new web-based form of communication. Social networks provide competition to traditional advertisers for consumer attention and at the same time, facilitate new and innovative ways for publishers and promoters to connect with their target audiences.
With the great influence that social media has on our generation, is it no wonder why comparisons are being made to more traditional forms of media. Discussions often arise as to which form is more efficient and effective in reaching their target consumers. Traditional media is usually limited to a certain geographic region (e.g. magazines, radio) with a shorter shelf-life; social media on the other hand has the ability to target regions all around the world, with an unlimited shelf-life creating a larger impact. Also, traditional media has a limited time frame in which to create an effect on the consumer and most often only allows for one-way communication.
Social media defies these boundaries by having an unlimited time frame to impact consumers and introduces two-way communication empowering individuals.