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Users usually access social media services through web-based apps on desktops or download services that offer social media functionality to their mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets). As users engage with these electronic services, they create highly interactive platforms which individuals, communities, and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, participate, and modify user-generated or self-curated content posted online. Additionally, social media are used to document memories, learn about and explore things, advertise oneself, and form friendships along with the growth of ideas from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites. This changing relationship between humans and technology is the focus of the emerging field of technological self-studies. Some of the most popular social media websites, with more than 100 million registered users, include Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), TikTok, WeChat, ShareChat, Instagram, QZone, Weibo, Twitter, Tumblr, Baidu Tieba, and LinkedIn. Depending on interpretation, other popular platforms that are sometimes referred to as social media services include YouTube, QQ, Quora, Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, LINE, Snapchat, Pinterest, Viber, Reddit, Discord, VK, Microsoft Teams, and more. Wikis are examples of collaborative content creation.
The PLATO system was launched in 1960, after being developed at the University of Illinois and subsequently commercially marketed by Control Data Corporation. It offered early forms of social media features with 1973-era innovations such as Notes, PLATO's message-forum application; TERM-talk, its instant-messaging feature; Talkomatic, perhaps the first online chat room; News Report, a crowdsourced online newspaper, and blog and Access Lists, enabling the owner of a note file or other application to limit access to a certain set of users, for example, only friends, classmates, or co-workers.
A precursor of the electronic bulletin board system (BBS), known as Community Memory, appeared by 1973. True electronic BBSs arrived with the Computer Bulletin Board System in Chicago, which first came online on February 16, 1978. Before long, most major cities had more than one BBS running on TRS-80, Apple II, Atari, IBM PC, Commodore 64, Sinclair, and similar personal computers. The IBM PC was introduced in 1981, and subsequent models of both Mac computers and PCs were used throughout the 1980s. Multiple modems, followed by specialized telecommunication hardware, allowed many users to be online simultaneously. Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL were three of the largest BBS companies and were the first to migrate to the Internet in the 1990s. Between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, BBSes numbered in the tens of thousands in North America alone. Message forums (a specific structure of social media) arose with the BBS phenomenon throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. When the World Wide Web (WWW, or 'the web') was added to the Internet in the mid-1990s, message forums migrated to the web, becoming Internet forums, primarily due to cheaper per-person access as well as the ability to handle far more people simultaneously than telco modem banks.
The development of social media began with simple platforms. GeoCities was one of the earliest social networking services, launched in November 1994, followed by Classmates.com in December 1995 and SixDegrees.com in May 1997. Unlike instant-messaging clients (e.g., ICQ and AOL's AIM) or chat clients (e.g., IRC, iChat, or Chat Television), SixDegrees was the first online business that was created for real people, using their real names. As such, according to CBS News, SixDegrees is "widely considered to be the very first social networking site," as it included "profiles, friends lists, and school affiliations" that could be used by registered users. The name references to the "six degrees of separation" concept, which posits that "everyone on the planet is only six degrees apart from everyone else." It was the first website to provide users the option of creating a profile.
Research from 2015 shows that the world spent 22% of their online time on social networks, thus suggesting the popularity of social media platforms. It is speculated that the increase in social media's popularity is due to the widespread daily use of smartphones. As many as 4.08 billion social media users worldwide were found active on smartphones as of October 2020.
The idea that social media are defined simply by their ability to bring people together has been seen as too broad, as this would suggest that fundamentally different technologies like the telegraph and telephone are also social media. The terminology is unclear, with some early researchers referring to social media as social networks or social networking services in the mid-2000s. A more recent paper from 2015 reviewed the prominent literature in the area and identified four common features unique to then-current social media services:
Mobile social media refers to the use of social media on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Mobile social media are useful applications of mobile marketing because the creation, exchange, and circulation of user-generated content can assist companies with marketing research, communication, and relationship development. Mobile social media differ from others because they incorporate the current location of the user (location-sensitivity) or the time delay between sending and receiving messages.
Social media promotes users to share content with others and display content in order to enhance a particular brand or product. Social media allows people to be creative and share interesting ideas with their followers or fans. Certain social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are places where users share specific political or sports content. Many reporters and journalists produce updates and information on sports and political news. It can truly give users pertinent and necessary information to stay up to date on relevant news stories and topics. However, there is a downside to it. Users are advised to exercise due diligence when they are using social media platforms.
Some social media sites have the potential for content posted there to spread virally over social networks. The term is an analogy to the concept of viral infections, which can spread rapidly from individual to individual. In a social media context, content or websites that are 'viral' (or which 'go viral') are those with a greater likelihood that users will re-share content posted (by another user) to their social network, leading to further sharing. In some cases, posts containing popular content or fast-breaking news have been rapidly shared and re-shared by a huge number of users.
Many social media sites provide specific functionality to help users re-share (also known as re-blogging) content, such as Twitter's 'retweet' button, Pinterest's 'pin' function, Facebook's 'share' option, or Tumblr's 're-blog' function. Re-sharing (or, in this case, retweeting) is an especially popular component and feature of Twitter, allowing its users to keep up with important events and stay connected with their peers, as well as contributing in various ways throughout social media. When certain posts become popular, they start to get retweeted over and over again, becoming viral. Hashtags can be used in tweets, and can also be used to take count of how many people have used that hashtag.
Twitter, whose original scope was text-based microblogging, later adapted photo sharing functionality (deprecating third-party services such as TwitPic), later video sharing with 140-second time limit and view counter but no manual quality selection or subtitles like on dedicated video platforms, and originally only available to mobile app users but later implemented in their website front ends. Then a media studio feature for business users, which resembles YouTube's Creator Studio.
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service and also to establish a connection with its customers. Social media marketing has increased due to the growing active user rates on social media sites. Though these numbers are not exponential. For example, as of 2018 Facebook had 2.2 billion users, Twitter had 330 million active users and Instagram had 800 million users. Then in 2021 Facebook had 2.89 billion users and Twitter had 206 million users. Similar to traditional advertising, all of social media marketing can be divided into three types: (1) paid media, (2) earned media, and (3) owned media. Paid social media is when a firm directly buys advertising on a social media platform. Earned social media is when the firms does something that impresses its consumers or other stakeholders and they spontaneously post their own content about it on social media. Owned social media is when the firm itself owns the social media channel and creates content for its followers. 2b1af7f3a8