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What Is Social Media?

Wat zijn social media?

Social media (ook wel: sociale media) zijn online platformen waar je zelf berichten kunt plaatsen en kunt reageren op de berichten van anderen. Deze berichten, of posts, hebben de vorm van tekst, beeld, video of audio. Het woord ‘social’ zegt het al: het is géén eenrichtingsverkeer! Interactie, netwerken en dialoog tussen gebruikers staan centraal.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat en TikTok zijn bekende socialmedia-platformen. Social media gebruiken algoritmes om hun gebruikers zo relevant mogelijke informatie te bieden, toegespitst op hun interesses. Deze algoritmes en het design van de platformen verleiden gebruikers om zoveel mogelijk tijd op de platformen door te brengen.

Social media kunnen je zakelijk ook veel opleveren. Via socialmedia-marketing zet je een product, idee of dienst (of jezelf!) via de sociale platformen in de markt. Let wel op dat je engagement (interactie) voorop zet. Ga de dialoog aan met jouw (potentiële) klanten en vergroot daarmee de loyaliteit en klanttevredenheid.


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Je wil aan de slag met social media, maar welke platformen moet je kiezen? En hoe verschillen ze van elkaar? Het is belangrijk om op de juiste social media actief te zijn om jouw doelgroep te bereiken. We zetten de grootste platformen voor je op een rij.

Het ultieme overzicht van alle socialmedia-afmetingen voor 2022


Het heeft een brede groep gebruikers, alle leeftijdsgroepen zijn erop actief. Maar opgelet, in 2022 werd bekend dat Facebook voor het eerst in zijn geschiedenis te maken krijgt met een daling in het aantal dagelijkse gebruikers.

Beginnen op Facebook

Je begint op Facebook door een profiel aan te maken met informatie over jezelf. Vervolgens kun je vrienden worden met anderen en berichten posten op je eigen profielpagina. Deze berichten kunnen de vorm hebben van een tekst, afbeelding, video, gifjes, links naar je website en meer.

Wat kun je met Facebook?

Facebook is een allround platform waar je posts kunt plaatsen met links, afbeeldingen, (live) video en audio. Je kunt ook lid worden van Facebook Groepen (of zelf een groep oprichten) om met gelijkgezinden te praten. En via Facebook Marketplace kun je spullen kopen en verkopen.

So, What Is Social Media?

Rather than define the term using a bunch of boring jargon that would probably only complicate things further, perhaps the best way to get a clearer understanding of it is to break it down into simpler terms. To start, let’s look at each word individually.

The following list of common features is often dead giveaways of a social media site. If you’re questioning whether a particular site could be classified as social or not, try looking for at least one of these features.

  • Personal user accounts: If a site allows visitors to create their own accounts that they can log into, then that’s a good first sign it might be used for some kind of user-based interaction — perhaps social interaction. Although it’s possible to share information or interact with others online anonymously, having to create some kind of user account first is more of a common, standard thing.
  • Profile pages: Since social media is all about communication, a profile page is often necessary to help represent an individual and give them a space to create their own personal brand. It often includes information about the individual user, like a profile photo, bio, website, feed of recent posts, recommendations, recent activity and more.
  • Friends, followers, groups, hashtags and so on: Individuals use their accounts to connect with other users. They can also use them to subscribe to certain forms of information.
  • Newsfeeds: When users connect with other users on social media, they’re basically saying, “I want to get information from these people.” That information is updated for them in real-time via their news feed.
  • Personalization: Social media sites usually give users the flexibility to configure their user settings, customize their profiles to look a specific way, organize their friends or followers, manage the information they see in their news feeds and even give feedback on what they do or don’t want to see.
  • Notifications: Any site or app that notifies users about specific information is definitely playing the social media game. Users have total control over these notifications and can choose to receive the types of notifications that they want.
  • Information updating, saving or posting: If a site or an app allows you to post absolutely anything, with or without a user account, then it’s social! It could be a simple text-based message, a photo upload, a YouTube video, a link to an article or anything else.
  • Like buttons and comment sections: Two of the most common ways we interact on social media are via buttons that represent a ‘like’ plus comment sections where we can share our thoughts.
  • Review, rating or voting systems: Besides liking and commenting, lots of social media sites and apps rely on the collective effort of the community to review, rate and vote on information that they know about or have used. Think of your favorite shopping sites or movie review sites that use this social media feature.

An illustration of the elements of a social media page.

What’s the Difference Between Social Media and Social Networking?

As mentioned earlier, a lot of people use the terms social media and social networking interchangeably as if they mean the exact same thing. Although the difference is subtle, they’re not the same. Social networking is really a subcategory of social media.

The easiest way to understand the difference between social media and social networking is by thinking about the terms media and networking separately. Media refers to the information you’re actually sharing — whether it’s a link to an article, a video, an animated GIF, a PDF document, a simple status update or anything else.

Networking, on the other hand, has to do with who your audience is and the relationships you have with them. Your network can include people like friends, relatives, colleagues, anyone from your past, current customers, mentors, and even complete strangers.

They certainly overlap, which is why it gets confusing. For example, you can share media with your social network to gather likes and comments — a form of social networking. But you can also just upvote a link on Reddit, which is a social media platform, to help out the community and give your say in the matter without any intention of building relationships with other users.

Still confused? Try to think of social media like fruit. Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, berries, melons and pineapples are all part of the broader fruit category the same way that social networking, social news, social bookmarking, wikis, blogs and private web messaging are part of the broader social media category.

Types of Social Media

Social media may take the form of a variety of tech-enabled activities. These activities include photo sharing, blogging, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, business networks, virtual worlds, reviews, and much more. Even governments and politicians utilize social media to engage with constituents and voters.

For individuals, social media is used to keep in touch with friends and extended family. Some people will use various social media applications to network career opportunities, find people across the globe with like-minded interests, and share their thoughts, feelings, insights, and emotions. Those who engage in these activities are part of a virtual social network.

For businesses, social media is an indispensable tool. Companies use the platform to find and engage with customers, drive sales through advertising and promotion, gauge consumer trends, and offer customer service or support.

Social media’s role in helping businesses is significant. It facilitates communication with customers, enabling the melding of social interactions on e-commerce sites. Its ability to collect information helps focus on marketing efforts and market research. It helps in promoting products and services, as it enables the distribution of targeted, timely, and exclusive sales and coupons to would-be customers. Further, social media can help in building customer relationships through loyalty programs linked to social media.

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Benefits of Social Media

Social media has changed the way we all interact with each other online. It gives us the ability to discover what’s happening in the world in real-time, to connect with each other and stay in touch with long-distance friends, and in order to have access to endless amounts of information at our fingertips. In many senses, social media has helped many individuals find common ground with others online, making the world seem more approachable.

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, the use of social media is correlated with having more friends and more diverse personal networks, especially within emerging economies. For many teenagers, friendships can start virtually, with 57% of teens meeting a friend online.

Businesses are also using social media marketing to target their consumers right on their phones and computers, building a following in order to build a loyal fan base, and create a culture behind their own brand. Some companies, such as Denny’s, have created entire personas on Twitter in order to market to younger consumers using their own language and personas.



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