What is Social Media?
There are multiple different meanings of Social Media, but the best way to think about Social Media is to think about what the words actually mean.
Media is a form of communication. It can be film, it can be newspapers, it can be TV, it can be art. Media is the instrument that that translates the content.
Social is a form of connectivity, engagement, gathering, coming together.
Thus Social Media is a form of Social Communication between lots of people.
Social Media operates in the digital space, as such most of this communication occurs online (via the web, mobiles and tablets).
Social Media Sites facilitate this interaction, and can be broken down into different types. For e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are considered Social Networks. Flickr and YouTube are considered Social Photo and Video Sharing sites. Wikipedia is an online wiki. Mashable, TechCrunch, Digg and Reddit are Social News sites. Radian6 and Buzznumbers are Social Monitoring sites. StumbleUpon and Del.icio.us are Social Bookmarking sites. There are plenty more spanning across nearly all sectors of industry (with over 550 Social Media sites existing today!)
Social Media provides a 2 directional flow of conversation between consumers and businesses. Consumers can find a business using social media, visit the business, tweet about their experience and use social media to purchase their products and services. On the other side of the coin, businesses can use Social Marketing to reach their consumers, have an internal Social Media Policy for their staff, respond to their consumers real-time enquiries and mitigate any reputational damage also in real time.
Most businesses are now moving to become a Social Media Business. Facebook Marketing, Twitter Marketing, YouTube Marketing has now become an extension of every business strategy – now called the Social Media Strategy.
The Social Media revolution is now considered as big as the internet revolution and has changed the way we live forever.
Exciting times are still ahead with Social Media evolving rapidly and organically.
Wikipedia do a great job of explaining what Social Media is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media