What Is Social Media? (Definition + Which Platforms & Networks Are Used to Define a Social Following)

on Blog April 15th, 2021

Social media is becoming ubiquitous in our culture, but what is it? And how can your company leverage the explosion of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for customer growth? Knowing the answer to the question “what is social media?” can help businesses build a superb social media marketing strategy designed to drive digital traffic and generate more leads.

In this article, we’ll be defining social media and sharing some hot tips and tools you can use to grow your personal blog or business profile.

What Is Social Media?

Broadly speaking, the definition of social media is any web platform or mobile application that allows users to network, share information, photos, or ideas with other users who share their social network or online community.

The use of social media technology requires an array of different supporting activites, including blog curation, professional social networking, customers sharing reviews, and many social media sites that enable you to share photos and videos with friends and family.

Social Media Definition

Since online groups are so varied, it’s easy to get confused about what is social media.

So to keep things easy and brief, we define social media as a platform where people and brands communicate, share ideas, and build an audience.

How Does Social Media Work?

Now that you know what social media means,  you’re probably wondering, “what is social media used for?”

Due to the huge number of social media platforms and users, social media is used to serve a number of purposes.

Here are three of the main ways that social media is used:

  1. Discussion. Social media platforms that are used for discussion include Reddit, Quora, and Facebook groups.
  2. Networking. Whether your reason for networking is purely for social reasons or for professional ones, there are a variety of platforms that are designed with networking in mind. Some of the most popular social networking platforms include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  3. Media sharing. Another way that social media is used is for media sharing. This includes sharing videos, images, articles, and other forms of content. Most websites and applications that fall under what is considered social media give users the ability to share media with the individuals following them.


What’s the Difference Between Social Media Platforms and Channels?

While these are sometimes used interchangeable, there’s a small difference between social media platforms and social media communication channels. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two terms.

  • Platforms are websites or applications that allow you to build your online profile and grow your brand awareness. Platforms include popular social sites and phone applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  • Social communication channels, on the other hand, are the conduits of communication. These communication enablers are often found within social media platforms (i.e. chatbots and direct messaging). One example of where social media platforms and channels overlap is Facebook.

So while Facebook is a platform, Facebook messaging is a channel.

What Are the Different Types of Social Media?

Now that you understand social medias’ definition, it’s time to look at examples of what is a social media platform.

The following section will introduce you to the main types of social media.

We’ve divided these popular social media platforms based on how we define social networks and the purposes they serve.

Social Networks

Social networking sites are used to grow your social or professional circles by connecting with others. Examples of social networking sites and applications include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Review Networks

Customer reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to deciding where to eat, stay, or shop. This is where review network sites come in handy. Three of the most popular review network sites are:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Google Reviews
  • Yelp

Media Sharing Networks

People and companies use social media sharing networks to share photos, articles, videos, and other kinds of personal and brand content among their followers and users. Popular media sharing networks include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Flickr

Content Curation Networks

In addition to preparing content with a photo editor, it’s also important to curate a gallery of media resources that help you engage your audience. Content curation networks allow users to easily save content they find useful or inspirational. Businesses use social media sites like these to grow brand awareness, gain new customers, and advertise to users.

Two popular content curation networks are:

  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr

Discussion Forums

Social media discussion forums are great communication and community tools that enable users to research ideas, ask questions to more experienced individuals, and connect with people that have similar interests.

The two most popular social media discussion forums are:

  • Reddit
  • Quora

If you’re a business, one strategy you can use to take advantage of these communication networks is to answer questions relevant to your niche and guide users toward your brand.

Blogging/Publishing Networks

Blogging and publishing networks are extremely useful tools for business owners who want to promote their company by publishing useful information about their product or service.

Blogging networks allow businesses to use SEO and commonly searched keywords to help their target audience find their service.

Some popular blogging and publishing networks include:

  • Medium
  • Youtube
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Squarespace

What Is Social Media Used For?

Now that you understand the social media meaning, let’s take a deeper look at what social media is used for and how you can use social media for marketing.

First and foremost, users flock to major social platforms like Twitter and Snapchat to connect with friends, share personal content, and promote their self-image on the internet.

Second, social network platforms are used by businesses to increase sales.

Successfully leveraging Twitter and other internet platforms for your company requires careful market research and knowledge of social media marketing strategy.

3 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Help You

Social media marketing is a powerful tool that can help you boost sales, connect with users, and build a community of loyal followers for your brand’s online profile.

The marketing method you use depends on your product/service, the demographics of your audience, and your business model. To give you an example of what marketing may look like for your brand, here are three of the strategies we use to increase customers on these web platforms:

PPC Social Media Marketing

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC ads) enables businesses to advertise via Facebook and other social media channels. PPC marketing expands your company’s reach exponentially.

One of the best things about PPC is that it gives you the ability to tailor ad campaigns to very specific demographics. PPC ads target customers in a specific geographic area, users in a specific age demographic, and male/female users.

LinkedIn Prospecting

LinkedIn prospecting offers businesses an effective channel for boosting customers and communication with leads.

In short, LinkedIn prospecting enables you to identify, analyze, and vet leads in order to provide you with greater insights into who is likely to become a patron of your business.

LinkedIn prospecting offers you a wealth of information about your target market and helps you create an effective sales funnel for scaling your business.

Consistent Social Media Posting

One of the simplest ways to scale your business via social media marketing is by consistently posting and maintaining an active online presence. Posting regularly also gives you access to engagement data, which you can use to learn more about your audience, refine your marketing strategy, and create more engaging content.

How to Create Social Media Strategies That Grow Your Business

In addition to social networks meaning and marketing strategies, you should also know how to create content that your friends and customers feel compelled to like and share.

Here are five tips for creating social media content that attracts engagement and leads:

1. Post Regularly

While social media algorithms are almost constantly changing, something that hasn’t changed is that accounts that post regularly get promoted.

Regardless of what social platform you are using, the platform’s algorithm will naturally promote your account if you make it a goal to release content consistently.

2. Engage With Your Audience

Another hack for growing your business with social media is to engage with your audience.

Post content that makes your audience want to engage with you. And when they do, make sure that you reciprocate.

Get personal and real and try to respond to as many comments as you can. When you respond to a user, it motivates them to share your content and engage with you again in the future.

3. Use Images

This probably won’t be news to you, but data shows that posts containing images receive an astounding interaction rate of 87%! This is pretty dang good, especially when compared with other forms of content, like link and text-based posts, that have a meager engagement rate of just 4%.

4. Create Video Posts & Ads

Video is another content format that’s exploding in popularity. If you got excited about image posts, then you’ll love what the data says about video content.

According to the latest data, video posts and video-based ads on platforms like Facebook generate 2x more clicks and 20-30% more conversions than image posts.

5. Repeat What Works

Perhaps the most helpful strategy for using social media to grow your business is to simply repeat what works for you.

Use analytics tools to record how your followers are engaging with different kinds of posts and use this data to create more targeted content.

Social Media FAQs

At Fannit, we hear a lot of questions about social media. Here are answers to some of the most common questions that come our way:

What Are Social Media Influencers?

A social media influencer is someone who is established on one or more social media platforms (usually with a substantial following). Social media influencers often use their platform to promote awareness about societal or global issues as well as to partner with brands in promoting products or services.

One social media strategy for marketing is to partner with an influencer whose audience overlaps with your niche. By paying the influencer to promote your product or brand, you can boost your company’s profile and help your brand seem more authentic and real.

What Are Social Media Apps?

Some of the most used social media apps are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Reddit

What Are Social Media Tools?

When it comes to social media management, three of the top user tools are:

  • Hootsuite is a tool that allows you to manage all of your social media technology within a single interface.
  • CoSchedule is a marketing calendar that enables you to manage your social profile and schedule your posts.
  • Later is a useful Instagram-based tool that enables you to plan and organize your content.

What Are Social Media Handles?

Social media handles are the public username that the user chose when they set up their account.

Most social media handles appear with an @ symbol preceding the username, while other social media handles can be the first and last name of a user.

In lieu of real names, selecting a moniker as a handle is popular among users of review and discussion forums like Yelp, Reddit, and Tumblr.

What Are Social Media Metrics?

Social media metrics are the means by which you can assess your posts’ performance analytics.

These metrics are extremely helpful and give businesses insight into what kinds of posts their audience enjoys the most to promote greater engagement.

Having access to your social media metrics can also help you create better social media ads that create more conversions.

When Is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?

The best time to post on social media is dependent on the industry you’re in and where your audience is located. To learn how to figure out the right time for you to share content among your social channels, read this article from the Fannit blog.

Is Social Media Management Useful?

Social media management is a service offered by Digital Marketing Agencies, like Fannit, to help businesses that lack the time, resources, or expertise necessary to successfully develop their social media accounts.

Social media managers are experts in the various social media platforms and can help you improve your online presence through good branding and social media engagement.

Grow Your Business With Professional Social Media Management

Here at Fannit, our team of social media managers has helped businesses across the USA develop their social media.

We use leading technology to plan out social media content, create compelling PPC ads, and unify all your accounts under a strategy that engages each and every user that follows your profiles.

To learn more about our social media management services, please contact Fannit today.

Helpful Reading: Fractional CMO Service

Neil Eneix

My brother Keith and I started Fannit in 2010 and have been very fortunate to work with a wonderful family of clients, watching their businesses grow through the power of digital marketing. At the office, I work with our clients on developing out their business strategy as well as nurturing our relationships. It’s amazing how much influence and power SEO and good content can have over a business’ health. Connect with me on LinkedIn >