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In the past seven years, social media has expanded like wildfire in the United States and across the world. Currently there are more than 750 million users on one social media site alone.

The momentum began with sites like Friendster and MySpace and has grown into a worldwide phenomenon and a hot topic among friends and in businesses. It impacts our culture and our lifestyles, but it can often be difficult to understand and hard to use if you’re not first familiar with the various sites and their main features.

What is social media?

The most important aspect of social media is that it’s interactive. Whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus, there will always be numerous ways to interact and communicate with a select group of individuals. And, depending on the site, you can interact with other members in different ways; you can share pictures, update your status or connect directly with friends.

Using social media for the right job

In order to use online social sites correctly you must make sure you’re using the right platform for the right job. Not every social media site is created equal or for the same purpose, and over time the users of a site will slowly change in demographics and size.

Facebook is used mainly for closer friends
The largest social media site, Facebook, continues to expand. Facebook is based on the relationships you have with friends and acquaintances more than most social sites and privacy can be set to be almost completely invisible or public. It’s a great place to organize events with friends; share pictures, comments and links; directly contact friends through messaging; or create a page where your business or band can get the word out about the latest news.

Twitter makes it easy to interact with people you don’t know

Your limit is 140 word posts on Twitter. But it’s amazing what users have been able to do with those limitations. Some have millions of followers and others only a few. What makes Twitter different is that it’s not about knowing everyone you follow – it’s about following people or things you like. As a result, when you join Twitter, you can follow and be followed by a wide variety of people, making it a fun and less restricted atmosphere.

LinkedIn offers a professional atmosphere

LinkedIn is a professional network that stands apart from Facebook or Twitter because of its unique niche. If you’re looking to create an online resume, showcase your work and connect with coworkers and others in related fields, LinkedIn is the place to be. Started back in 2003, LinkedIn has now grown to more than 100 million users. As evidence to the amount of networking accomplished on LinkedIn, there were more than 2 billion people searches in 2010.

Google Plus is an environment mixed between Twitter and Facebook

A more recent site to connect, Google Plus, made its big splash in summer 2011. In an effort to integrate more of your online experience with your social life, Google Plus takes an approach that intertwines what Twitter and Facebook have succeeded at. Like Twitter you can add anyone you want to one of your circles, which means their posts will show up in your feed. But, like Facebook, you can also upload pictures and easily share longer posts or messages with friends. Initially the Google Plus audience has been made up mostly of tech-savvy men, but some research has shown that’s starting to change rapidly. It’s a site to keep your eyes on.

Advantages of social media

Social media connects us to each other. News and entertainment seen on TV travels like the wind across all types of social platforms. Rather than sharing news with just one or two friends, groups the size of countries can benefit from the information. You can access news programming to share from around the world with satellite television which you can often find through dealer websites, like www.directstartv.com.

There are many different uses of social media and the various sites show that not all people come to social media for the same reason. Some want to just connect with their best friends who live across town. Others may be looking to know what’s going on in politics or with celebrities. The options are endless, the boundaries are expanding and social media is growing like it never has before.

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.