Mapping the social media landscape: a profile of tools, applications and key features

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Peer-Reviewed Research


This article is based on a 2014 explorative study investigating the use of social media applications in an educational context by means of a systematic analysis of internationally published and researched studies. The purpose of this article is to present a brief overview of the evolution of the Internet and the WWW in order to draw a “map” of the rapidly evolving and ever-changing social media landscape. The mapping exercise leads to an overview of the most prominent features of social media tools and applications. As a whole, the information presented in the article should be regarded as a glance at a vast, ever-changing terrain; a set of summarised “directions” intended for practitioners and researchers in the field of computer-mediated communication (CMC) who are less experienced or relatively new to the field. Based on the study, key features of social media are highlighted and the role of social media in communication, interaction and collaboration are highlighted. Furthermore, by highlighting the key features of social media, a profile of social media as a CMC tool is compiled, which must be considered when utilising social media in any context.