Social media is often used to refer to social networking sites and thus can confuse users as to what it actually essentially entails as social networking sites are widely talked about since their launch. Social media refers more to the 'instrument' or tool used to convey the communication. Social Media allows users to use various technologies such as audio, video and and even images and text online to share personal reflections and/or events etc. Many users have the ability to digitally collect from other different sources and  layer or blend in a meaningful way is often referred to as 'Mash-up'. Video-sharing sites allow you to upload and share your personal videos with the rest of the web community i.e. YouTube and photo-sharing websites allow users to upload pictures and images to a personal account which can then be viewed by web users the world over i.e. Flickr. These media can be used in social networking sites too i.e. Facebook, however the distinguishing feature about social media is the fact that it's mainly user generated content. Such sites usually allow you to host your content (usually there are two types of hosting, self-hosting is an option if the service provider allows you to download their software or the other option is to have your content hosted by the service provider this may or not be free) . There are now many web services which allow you to create and host your social content. It's important that you are familiar with their terms and conditions of using their service, and read our non-DMU tools checklist.

View this useful video on understanding social media by Common Craft