Backgrounder: Social Media Tools and Applications


Social Media tools and applications are growing in both popularity and usage. Across the globe, communicators are harnessing the power of social media to reach new audiences, influence their behaviour, beliefs or activities, establish and build relationships, and to foster desired outcomes in targeted audiences.

Social media is a general term used to describe a number of tools, tactics and techniques most commonly used on the Internet.

One definition of social media would be an Internet-based suite of tools and applications that enable users to create content, share it with others, and create communities of interest surrounding specific topics, causes, issues or ideas.

Social media tools and applications—including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Delicious, Foursquare and others—are characterized by their relative ease of use, free cost structure and reliance on Internet-based technology.

Social Media Characteristics

Certain characteristics are common among social media tools and applications. All social media tend to:

  • Focus on interaction (or two-way communication) between users instead of one-way communication
  • Encourage and rely on user-generated content that may be collaborative in nature
  • Emphasize and celebrate the “genuine voice” instead of formal corporate-style messaging
  • Utilize web-based technology
  • Use groups to gauge the importance of news and trends

Social media is not designed to replace other communications activities but rather to complement them. Social media can also be used to try to reach new audiences that are not consumers of traditional media or campaigns.

About Genuine Voice

Genuine Voice is the term used to describe the style of social media writing, reportage and commentary.

The term is a reference to the real, more casual, often unscripted writing style that avoids corporate, bureaucratic or stilted language. Since social media users and commentators are everyday people, they tend to use their own, natural style of writing when using social media tools and applications. A fresh, real approach to language is often a hallmark of social media outlets.