What is social media and why is it important?
Social media in general is a broad subject; the term social media encapsulates any website or web application that allows visitors and users to interact with the site, application and each other directly or indirectly. There are seven basic categories of social media sites.
Social Media sites by category
|Social Media Type||Description||Examples|
|Blogs||Allow you to write, journal style, and then invite comments from your readers||Blogger|
|Social networks||Where people can interact and connect online||Facebook|
|Bookmarking Sites||Allow you to save bookmarks, just like you would in your browser, but on a site you can access from any computer||Delicious|
|Microblogging sites||Allow you to blog one or two sentences at a time||Twitter|
|Media Sharing Sites||Where you can upload and share video, audio, and photographs||YouTube|
|Popularity Sites||Where you can collect bookmarks and then let visitors||Digg|
|Aggregators||Help the truly social and connected keep up with all this stuff||FriendFeed|
Source: Web Marketing all-in-one for dummies
The main idea of social is media is to be social. Think of social media like a cocktail party or networking meeting. At these events you are interacting with people, making small talk, telling jokes and for the most part being yourself. Now take that same idea and instead of heading to a million events you are in the comfort of your office or home and interacting with a group of people that are not necessarily located geographically where you are. This opens the doors and windows to an endless world of opportunity.
So why is social media important? If you have been reading this article thus far I have vaguely described the importance of social media. Here I will dig a bit further. Why is social media important? Well, for the same reason you go to networking meetings and trade shows. You want to be in the fore front of your audience, but unlike the mediums mentioned above the cost to produce one customer are dramatically reduced when you utilize social media properly. Think about it, when you are looking for information about a product or service where do you go? Most likely to a search engine like Google or Bing and then type in what you are looking for. Often the product or service you are looking for has been reviewed by someone and you might base your buying decision on this persons review. Chances are you are like me and agree that consumers will listen to other consumers over the business that is advertising the product or service. In other words just like you, your customers are researching your product and services online before even calling you. If you are not doing any form of social media you may be missing out on some very important conversations that you should be participating in.
This has been a basic overview of social media; in my next article I will be speaking about the sneeze principal, you are not going to want to miss this one.