Social media are online communications platforms that allow people to share content. The phrase typically brings to mind sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn; however, there are many other forms of social media where people share photos, text, videos, podcasts, music, discussions, and ideas. Social media also include a range of professional communication forums, online review sites (for example, Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes), and microblogging (for example, Twitter). For more information on the different types of social media, click on this article by author and marketer Tim Grahl.
Social media have increasingly become everyday communication tools. Many brands use social media to leverage their marketing and public relations efforts. Specifically, organizations can use social media to enhance brand awareness, roll out promotions, and build website traffic. Social media also provide opportunities to develop relationships with audiences through engagement and key messaging. Valentini and Kruckeberg (2012) note that “social media provide a relatively inexpensive means to communicate with, and, more importantly, to enter into a dialogue with strategic publics” (p. 11).