Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

What Is Social Media?

02.09.2010 · Posted in Social Media
Social Media Is The Building of Online Friendships

Social Media Is The Building of Online Friendships

It’s hard to pin down a real definition for Social Media.  Here are a few I found online:

  1. Social media is content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media)
  2. A category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, social news sites like Digg or Reddit, and other sites that are centered on user interaction (searchenginewatch.com/define)
  3. An umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words and pictures (www.anvilmediainc.com/search-engine-marketing-glossary.html)
  4. Social Media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings (sprythink.com/glossary.html)
  5. Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other (www.tvb.org/multiplatform/Multiplatform_Glossary.aspx)
  6. Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, wiki or video hosting site (www.capilanou.ca/help/active-cms/glossary.html)
  7. Social Media is the collection of tools and online spaces available to help individuals and businesses to accelerate their information and communication needs (communitymanagers.pbwiki.com/Glossary-and-Reference)

All these definitions are useful and I think they all give key insights into what Social Media does, but when it comes to what Social Media is…I think the simplest explanation is best.

Let’s start with what it isn’t. Social Media isn’t putting up a website and ignoring it.  It’s not your store’s online shopping capabilities, and it’s much more advanced than basic email.

Social Media is – well, I think technically ‘media’ is plural, so – Social Media are simply platforms for discussions directly between one human to another, or to a group.  Social Media by its very nature is a two-way conversation, and any involvement in it must be viewed as an active communication.  Maybe it’s sharing pictures on Flickr, or building a network of living, breathing friends on Facebook or Myspace, or publishing your own personal or professional thoughts out to the world through a blog.  However you choose to jump into Social Media, what it is really about is being open and responsive to the people that talk back to you.

Social Media is growing more and more important to large and small businesses alike, which is why you need to know about it.  If you don’t have one already, start a personal Facebook account.  I promise you, even if you’ve lived in a cave the past twenty years of your life, you already know plenty of other people on Facebook.  Just go through your email and find them.  Once you’re comfortable there, start a personal Twitter account.  You’ll soon start figuring out how it all works.  The best way to learn Social Media is to start participating in it.  Get involved in conversations, start following and talking to bloggers that write about your field of business or your favorite hobbies.  Just getting involved is a huge step toward improving your business outreach online.

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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