Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks – via computers and smart-phones. Social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.
Manitoba's heritage community is increasingly exploring these important new communication vehicles, and many groups and communities are using these tools for any number of tourism, education and informational opportunities.
Three of the most popular social media sites with important opportunities for heritage groups are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The following information only provides general definitions and observations about these sites. Groups and communities are strongly advised to consult with local youth about the best ways to explore and use these resources for their own needs.
Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, and at September 2012 had over one billion active users. It is a major communication resource.
After registering to use the site, users typically create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages, post status updates and photos, and receive notifications when others update their profiles. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics and interests, and categorize their friends into lists such as "People From Work" or "Close Friends."
Facebook has affected the social life and activity of people in various ways. With its availability on many mobile devices, Facebook allows users to continuously stay in touch with friends, relatives and other acquaintances wherever they are in the world, as long as there is access to the Internet. It can also unite people with common interests and/or beliefs through groups and other pages.
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called "tweets." Twitter was created in March 2006 and launched in July 2006. Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS, or via a mobile device app (application).
The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with more than 100 million users who in 2012 posted 340 million tweets per day. The service also handled 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013 Twitter was one of the ten most-visited websites.
As a social network, Twitter revolves around the principle of followers. Users may subscribe to other users' tweets – this is known as "following" and subscribers are known as "followers" or "tweeps."
A word, phrase or topic that is tagged at a greater rate than other tags is said to be a "trending topic." Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users, or because of an event that prompts people to talk about a specific topic. These topics help Twitter and their users to understand what is happening in the world.
On March 31, 2014, Twitter announced there were 255 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 198 million mobile MAUs. In 2013, there were over 100 million users actively using Twitter daily and about 500 million Tweets every day, with about 29% of users checking Twitter multiple times a day.
Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
Instagram has gained prominence with the "selfie," a self-portrait photograph typically taken with a cell phone or digital camera.