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The term "interactive social media" refers to Internet-based methods of communication, which actively solicits or invites response from those included within its sphere. Interactive social media is unique in that the message is not expected to travel in only one direction nor is it communicated privately. Rather, the communication of the message itself can be observed and its effects measured as the one communicated with responds to the original sender, forwards the remark or information to an entirely different group of individuals or simple acknowledges receipt, and perhaps approval, of the message. The major types of different interactive social media include social networking sites, information-sharing sites and photo and video-sharing sites.
Perhaps the most popular and well-known form of interactive social media is social networking site, such as Facebook, chat rooms and to an extent, Twitter. In most forms of social networking sites, an individual asks to be part of another person's "friend" network. In some cases of chat rooms, a participant may need only be a member of that particular Internet provider company, while others require a paid membership. An individual's comments, photos, addition of new friends, likes, locations and activities can be shared with their group of friends. Depending upon the privacy settings established by the media user, friends or even strangers can see and respond to any of this information.
Information-sharing sites are another growing type of interactive social media. These sites may be based in establishing a business network or established because of an individual's hobby. Essentially, a user joins one of the growing number of programs, invites friends to "follow" them and then bookmarks websites or identifies stories of particular interest to them — and hopefully — to their followers. In turn, they receive their friends' or followers' recommended websites and news stories to follow. An individual with a large and loyal base of followers can markedly influence "the news" based upon her recommendations and comments.
A third type of interactive social media includes photograph and video sharing groups, the best known of which is the video-sharing site, YouTube. Individuals can search for and watch videos of interest or make their own videos and upload them for anyone with an Internet connection to observe. Photographs are also often shared through a number of different programs of varying privacy. Making these distinctions between different types of interactive social media moot is the frequent sharing of a YouTube video on a Facebook page.
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