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Typology of Social Media

Updated September 10, 2022
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Typology of Social Media essay

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There are multiple typologies of social media. Differentiation dependents on which factors it is choosing to concentrate on. Below are various approaches on how social media types are separated and what characteristics they possess.

Zhu and Chen (2015) suggested a typology of social media using 2×2 matrix. The matrix includes two dimensions; one is whether the connection is content based or profile based, and the other is concerning the customization of messages. Profile-based social media is more focused on users and content-based on content that users post. Customized messages are targeted to a certain user or group of friends, colleagues, etc., while broadcast posted messages are for general public and engages users, who are interested in a certain topic. As a result, 4 types of social media were distinguished: Relationship, Self-Media, Collaboration and Creative Outlets (Figure 1) (Zhu and Chen, 2015).

Relationship includes personalized messages, comments, updates, etc. intended for friends, family or small group of people. The examples of this type are Facebook, Viber, Whatsapp, Linkedin and so on. Self-Media is profile-based and includes broadcast messages (e.g. Twitter). This type of social media allows users to follow celebrities, prominent companies, brands, etc. Creative outlets allow users to share their messages, videos, pictures to a broad audience. One of the examples of these social media platforms is YouTube. The final type is Collaboration, which consists of personal needs, but it is content based. The example can be Yahoo! Answers where people go to find an answer to a certain question (Zhu & Chen, 2015). Zhu & Chen (2015) have summarized the most important human needs that each type of social media aims to satisfy, and they describe each type based on that.

  1. Relationship – In this type of social media it is crucial to understand that people are looking for relatedness and self-esteem. It was shown that on Facebook, for example, the advertisements are not that efficient, because people go there to connect not with a brand or product, but with friends and family. The authors urged companies to help people developing the current connections or helping to make new ones by products and/or services which will help users to enhance their self-esteem and self-presentation.
  2. Self-Media – When users follow celebrities here, in some extent they start to feel good about themselves. Marketer here can use celebrities to promote their products or services, as many users are trying to imitate celebrities and be like them. Celebrities can just have a sponsored product, for instance, in one of the photos they share, and it will have a good marketing outcome.
  3. Collaboration – These social media platforms satisfy autonomy, competence and self-actualization needs. In these types of platforms people usually seek assistance or support for their problems and it is marketers’ job to show that their product or service can solve that problem.
  4. Creative Outlet – Users here have need for self-actualization and showing their competence in a certain area. The good examples are fashion brands on Instagram which allow making an order right on Instagram by just clicking on the picture. (Zhu & Chen, 2015)

Another typology presented by Dao, Le, Cheng, and Chen (2014) differentiates social media into three categories based on their specific characteristics:

  • Social networking sites – consumers get the opportunity to build connections with friends, colleagues, etc. by sharing and distributing various contents.
  • Social media platform – allows consumers to share information with broader and larger audience.
  • Content community sites – designed for sharing specific content type, for instance videos (Dao et al., 2014).

Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) separated two dimensions on social media categorization. First dimension is media richness/social presence, i.e. how much information can be communicated in a certain period. The second dimension is the level of self-disclosure and type of self-presentation.

As presented in Figure 2, the authors separated six groups of social media based on the high or low level of self-presentation and self-disclosure, as well as from low to high level of social presence and media richness. Blogs are usually monitored by one person, who creates and shares the content about specific topic. Other users, however, can also get involved (e.g. leaving comments). Content communities refer to content sharing platform for photos, videos, text, etc. Social networking sites allow users to create their personal profile (with various personal information) in order to connect and communicate with friends, family members, and in general other users.

In the next platform, virtual game worlds, users create avatars in order to interact with others. The users need to follow certain rules of the game. This type requires the most involvement with the platform. Virtual social world is the final type, which replicates users’ real life into virtual domain. In contrast to virtual games worlds, this type does not have strict rules which users should obey (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

Within collaborative projects type of social media another differentiation was done. That typology separates four types of collaborative projects based on again two dimensions: created knowledge characteristics and independence level of separate contents creations. Wiki is the first type, which allows all the users to edit the content. The next one is social bookmarking sites, where users can classify the content by visualization of tags. Online forum types allow users to communicate and hold discussions by posting their opinion, statements, etc. The purpose of online forums is mutual knowledge creation. The difference on online forum and wiki is that online forums do not allow users to edit others’ posts.

Review sites are the last type of collaborative projects. Here users give feedbacks and reviews on certain products, brands, services, and so on. With regards to the knowledge characteristics dimension wikis and social bookmarking sites create and share content with objective bases, whereas forums and review sites present mostly subjective opinion of users. In terms of mutual independence dimension, in forums and wikis the content that users intend to post depends on the previous posts and discussion most of the time, but in social bookmarking and review sites new content can be fully independent from the previous ones (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2014).

Social media era allows marketers to have a broader area for creativity, but in the meantime, it has certain challenges. It is crucial to understand that every social media type and every social media user target should be approached individually (Zhu & Chen, 2015).

An interesting approach for the main social media platform representation is Conversation Prism (Figure 3). Conversation Prism first was introduced in 2008 by Brain Solis and JESS3 (2013), however it is constantly adapting to the changes which occur in social media world. This is a good method to show that social media is not only Facebook and Twitter. It was created as graphic for companies and brands to get the opportunity to use it as a marketing tool to evolve by creating right content in the right platform (Solis & JESS3, 2013).

In the middle of the prism is located so called “You”, which represents the corresponding brand/company that is using the prism. The idea is to understand what the brand’s current position is in social media world and what the objectives are. “You” is surrounded by Listen, Learn, Engage, and Co-Create, which are the processes needed for social media presence: first listening and learning what is happening and then engaging and co-creating on social media. The next ring consists of social capital, influence, popularity, reach, relevance, and resonance. Those are the measurements for the influences that social media engagement brings. All these also surrounded by brand, persona and community, which shows how the brand engages in social media activities and in which manner (Solis, 2017).

Typology of Social Media essay

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FAQ

What are the 5 categories of social media?
Types of Social Media Social Networking. Photo Sharing. Video Sharing. Interactive Media. Blogging/Community Building.
What are the 6 types of social media?
The six types of social media, though this can be broken down in many ways, include social networking, bookmarking, social news, media sharing, microblogging, and online forum sites .
What are the 7 types of social media?
The 7 different types of social media Social networking sites. Most of us are familiar with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Social review sites. Image sharing sites. Video hosting sites. Community blogs. Discussion sites. Sharing economy networks.
What are the 9 types of social media?
The 9 Types of Social Media With Examples Social networks. Example: Facebook, LinkedIn. Bookmarking sites. Example: Pinterest, Flipboard, Digg. Media sharing. Example: Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo. Microblogging. Example: Twitter, Facebook. Blog Comments and Forums. Social review sites. Community Blog. Sharing Economy Network.
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