At the most basic level, the spread of information begins with a story between neighbors. Social media is the umbrella that hovers over the multifaceted web of online sidewalks taking customized information to neighbors all around the world. Social Media websites create platforms where people can connect by posting their own information and responding to other users information. The wide range of media outlets including video, audio, photo and text emphasizes personalization by the user. Each website hopes to identify and capitalize on a unique general interest. To explain this better, lets look at some of the most common social media outlets; Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Facebook operates by offering its users a formatted canvas with which to post everything about themselves; relationship status, photos, family ties, hobbies etc. Once a friendship is mutually accepted all the information is fair game for viewing, commenting and approving. As Facebook evolves, it has expanded its network by not only creating pages for businesses and special interests but also by allowing external websites to add a like button essentially transforming all participants into one huge social network.

Twitter focuses less on the history of users and more on the here-and-now as it offers its members 140 characters to explain their current thoughts, ideas and/or actions. Users follow other users and get real-time updates on their friends. The more people you follow the more updates you get and hopefully the more people that choose to follow you to hear what you have to say.

YouTube is slightly different than the previous two in that it is primarily a venue for hosting videos. Professional music videos, how-to videos, home videos and video blogs are all a part of this network. And of course, you can comment and rate the videos for everyone to see. These three platforms are common but certainly not alone. There are hundreds of other active sites and creative thinkers are constantly coming up with new ideas to bring people together online.

Social Media thrives because of one undeniable truth: people care what other people are doing, thinking and saying. Although this digital world can seem overwhelming, the key is to find your niche and manipulate the never-ending options to create a network that works for you. Most notably, the price of using all of this technology is absolutely free which is a great reason to learn through experience. Whether promoting a global campaign or just keeping in touch with an old friend, social media will get you where you need to go.