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A Definition

Social media (in this online context) could be defined as: “web-based technology and applications that allow the creation, exchange and consumption of user-created content”. That is, platforms which allow users to interact with the aim of exchanging content which they (or others) have created be it pictures, video, comments, blogs etc.

Common features of social media

  • Dialogue and democracy – equal footing and equal say (in theory; in practice, content is often moderated or discussion is led by an originator such as within a blog)
  • User-created content – content is uploaded and shared within the community in order to spread awareness and gather feedback
  • Tagging system – user-generated organisation system of searchable terms
  • Commenting – other users can comment freely on contributions
  • Customisation – users can ‘collect’ information and content that is most relevant to them in order to tailor-make their online environment
  • Self-assembling and self-defining networks – marking the tendency of users to ‘congregate’ around an issue, interest or social/geographical factor and within these groups, continue to self-select information to tailor their web environment

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