Social Media: Social media (sometimes called "social networking") consists of websites, apps, and other internet-based platforms that allow users to create, share, and exchange information and content with one another. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ are some of the most popular examples of social media in the Western world.
Social media's infancy is often traced back to the bulletin board systems (BBS) that were around at the advent of the internet. Email is also considered an early form of social networking, followed by instant messaging programs that grew in popularity in the 1990s (AIM, ICQ, Windows Messenger, etc.). In the early 2000s, sites like Friendster and MySpace began to change the scope of social networking by letting users create profiles and become "friends" with other users.
Today, there are several different types of social media sites, and their purpose and structure will often dictate how users can interact with one another. Blogging and microblogging sites like Tumblr and Twitter respectively allow users to share photos, post personal information and news stories, and like and share other users' content. Some social sites are geared toward the creation of content, like YouTube and DailyMotion. Even online games and "social worlds" like World of Warcraft and Second Life are considered forms of social media. Some social networking platforms are geared toward special interests, and most types of social media are available in the form of mobile apps, too.
The most popular social network, in terms of numbers, is Facebook, which is a general social networking site that boasts over one billion users. However, Google+ also has high numbers due to Google's other platforms, such as YouTube and Gmail. Twitter also has more than one billion users, but only a bit more than half of those users are active.
Many people use social media to connect with friends and family by sharing status updates and posting pictures. However, businesses also take advantage of social media websites to interact with customers and clients and to promote their brand. A good example of this is Facebook, which features business pages that users can "Like" to receive updates and promotional information. Because it can take a lot of time away from running a company to update a social networking account, many businesses hire a marketing firm or other agency to handle their social media management.