Social Media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.” — Seth Godin,

A definition

Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features(1):

  1. Social media are interactive Web 2.0 internet-based applications.
  2. User-generated content, such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.
  3. Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
  4. Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.

Categories of social media platforms

We can use this definition to identify current categories of social media platforms:

Based on the definition, the instant messaging app, WhatsApp, would not classify as social media. WhatsApp users do not really create profiles. Obviously, the definition is not very specific, so that there is some room for interpretation. Taking a broad view on the definition, even collaboration tools like Slack would classify as social media.

Advantages of social media

Some key advantages for individuals include connecting with others and access to content. People can form connections with other people all across the world. They can also use content on the sites for both information and entertainment.

Organisations can benefit through cost savings and timely feedback. Rather than expensive traditional print, radio, or TV ads they can use digital advertising on social media sites. They can also receive direct feedback from customers, who rate and review products online.

Most popular social networks
The following list of the leading social networks shows the number of active users as of July 2018.

S.No. Network Name Number of Users
(in millions)
1 Facebook 2,989
2 YouTube 1,900
3 WhatsApp 1,500
4 Facebook Messenger 1,300
5 WeChat 1,040
6 Instagram 1,000
7 QQ 806
8 QZone 563
9 Tik Tok 500
10 Sina Weibo 411
11 Twitter 336
12 Reddit 330
13 Baidu Tiba 300
14 Skype 300
15 LinkedIn 294
16 Viber 260
17 Snapchat 255
18 Line 203
19 Pinterest 200
20 Telegram 200
21 Tinder 100


  1. Wikipedia contributors. Social media. [cited 2018 Nov 27]; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available from: 

Join the discussion and share your answers in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.