11.2: Social media characteristics
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Several characteristics make social media a unique communication tool. First, social media users are content creators. People can create their own blogs, write a Facebook or Twitter post expressing their thoughts on an issue, or post a video blog (“vlog”) about their latest travel adventures on YouTube. This enables users to be active participants in the communication process. Audiences are more engaged with brand messages because they can provide feedback to companies, creating a two-way conversation.
Another characteristic of social media is instant communication. Audiences do not have to wait until scheduled news broadcasts to receive information because reporters and media outlets can bring the news directly to social media platforms. Furthermore, people can easily share and post news content on their networks. Social media also foster a sense of interconnectedness and community by bringing people across the globe together online. Those living in the United States can easily interact with those living in Australia. Valentini and Kruckeberg (2012) write that social media could not exist without their users, given that the interactivity characteristics create a community feeling. As noted by Green (2012): “Social media [provide] the means by which clusters of like-minded individuals can easily swap ideas and scrutinise data on public matters” (para. 4).