Social media is any type of communication that uses web-based technologies for social interaction and/or the exchange of user-generated content. Even though social media has many similarities to other media types such as TV or newsprint, it is unique in many ways. Social media is generally accessible by almost anyone, does not require any special training to use, is cheap or free, communications can be frequent, and social media is not permanent as commenting or editing can change it.
There have been many criticisms of social media such as that it is dominated by those who are the loudest and most opinionated and social media can become a monopoly that will limit advances in ideas. When a social media succeeds, it is establishing itself as an authority in its niche and, thus, becomes an influence over people who use the social medium. Because so many amateurs are participating in social media “conversations,” studies show that people have become less trustful in information provided by “people like me.”
Despite the criticisms, social media is becoming much more prevalent. As of December 2009, about 234 million in the US aged 13 and up used mobile devices, the social media site Twitter got almost 40 tweets per day, and 25% of page views from the US were at social networking sites. There are now all sorts of types of social media including blogs, wikis, social navigation, multimedia sharing, reviews, and brand monitoring.