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Over the past decade, social media has become the pulse of our plugged-in worlds.

We spend hours browsing and contributing to social networks, blogs, and other services designed to help people express themselves and stay connected.

And we don't do it to just pass the time.

In the last year alone, ordinary people have harnessed the power of social media to start revolutions, rebuild countries, pick apart brands and create marvelous products.

The explosion of social media should come as no surprise - it is merely the newest, most effective enabler of the social interactions that have sustained us for years.

Pre-Internet social media can be traced back some centuries ago to England, where people began to attach notices to wooden posts located in public spaces.

From this action came our modern sense of the word "posting." Hundreds of years later, the post was digitized on bulletin board systems which enabled computer geeks across the world to instantly exchange public messages and files over telephone lines.

What bulletin board systems did for the post, Geocities did for personal identity.

And in 1995 widespread adoption of the Internet allowed anyone with a dial up connection to have an online profile, complete with dancing babies and word art.

Within a few years the first two modern social networking sites were launched: The Globe and Six-Degrees.

Their success helped inflate the dot-com bubble, but the only lasting social media product of the late 90s was Blogger - the first widely adopted blogging tool.

The real Social media Renaissance didn't come for three more years, when a small dating site called Friendster launched, and within a few months, courted 3 million hyper-engaged users.

Entrepreneurs and investors took notice and many of the Social Media juggernauts that we know today - LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were all launched less than three years after Friendster's Beta release.

And now, social media is an entire industry.

The only way to excel at it both personally and professionally is to understand the inner-workings and strategies behind the primary venues where content is shared.

Social mediaWeb-based and mobile tools that allow people all over the world to interact, share and communicate.BlogWeb log; a website where individuals or groups of people share information on a regular basis.NetworkA system or group of interconnected people or things.Action1. A metric that measures specific user behavior, usually in the form of a click; 2. a Google Places measurement for the number of times a user has interacted with a specific listing. BackA feature of Web browsers that lets users return to the last Web page viewed by clicking on the "back arrow," which points to the left and is typically located in the upper left hand corner of a Web browser. The keyboard shortcut for Back is typically the "Backspace" key.InternetA worldwide interconnection of computers and computer networks that facilitate the sharing or exchange of information among users.PostAn entry published on a blog, microblog, forum, or social networking site.BulletinAn update sent from a YouTube channel to its subscribers.MessageA typed communication that is sent out to others.ConnectionA contact to whom one is linked on a social networking site, sometimes modified by "degree" indicating whether the link is direct, or through one or more intermediaries. ProfileA centralized presence on a Web application or website.SiteWebsite; a collection of related Web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets.Blogger1. A person who creates, maintains and posts to a blog; 2. a blogging platform that supports multi-user blogs and lets users compose and publish text and various types of media. FacebookThe world's largest social networking platform; it is used to communicate and share content with users' friends and family around the world.LinkedInThe world's largest online professional social network through which over 100,000 members communicate, network, find jobs and more.TwitterA popular microblogging platform that lets users connect and share information with friends, celebrities, companies and more via short messages.YouTubeThe world's largest video site, where users can upload, share, watch and edit video content.Gmail2742How Did Social Media Evolve?

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