Basically, social media is the general term used to describe the various online places that people (and I suspect my cat at times) engage with each other. And where they gather and share information and opinions via things like blogs and microblogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, social bookmarking, and online communities.
Largely, it’s a place where people can gather and connect with others. Without even needing to leave their living rooms. And also, for most of us, it’s become a place we now rely on to find information of all kinds. (Remember encyclopedias and books?)
Some people actually use social media sites like Twitter or Facebook as their main news sources. (Remember newspapers?) For others, social media makes up a large and growing part of their social life. And all of these wonderful things can be found right here on the magical internet.
Even this is social media!
Right now you are using this blog, which could also be called a micro internet community. Possibly you got here through FaceBook or Twitter or LinkedIn (business / employment) or Reddit. Or one of numerous other online communities that so many of us now rely on.
Maybe, just possibly. you will decide to share something you find on this site elsewhere online. On some other site where people gather. And just by doing that, you will be acting as part of a larger online community.
And that’s all social media!
[Article updated in 2020]