Social media is certainly the buzz of today, but what is it, how can it benefit you, and why do you really care? Glad you asked. First, let’s stress that if you think social media is a fad that’s going to disappear you couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media is a phenomenon and it’s taking the internet by storm.
Those who were quick to jump on the bandwagon and take the time to understand social media marketing have already taken their businesses miles ahead of the competition. Over the next decade, we can expect social media’s role in marketing and business to grow by leaps and bounds.
So what is social media? By definition (Wikipedia), social media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
So how big is social media? It’s huge! To give you an idea of how huge here are some recent stats.
- There are more than 750 million active users on social networking site Facebook.
- There are more than 156 million blogs.
- There are more than 490 million YouTube videos.Social Media by Characteristics
The best way to understand social media is by grouping by characteristic.
- Openness: The majority of social media venues promote leaving comments, voting, sharing information, and removing barriers making content open to everyone.
- Connectedness: Social media thrives on being connected with other people, resources, sites, blogs, etc.
- Conversation: Traditional media is one way communication whereas social media is more of a two-wayconversation.
- Participation: Social media promotes everyone to contribute and provide feedback. Media and audienceblur together.
- Community: Social media sees communities quickly sprout up based on common interests.5 Basic Forms of Social Media
If you’re wondering when we are going to get to the meat and potatoes of social media marketing, we are already on our way. To get the most out of this e-book and concepts we’ll discuss, you need to understand social media and its components. If this is all rather boring to you we encourage you to skip forward.
There are five basic forms of social media. Let’s have a look at them.
1. Social Networks
These are sites where people build personal and business web pages and then connect with their
Friends and/or family to communicate, share content and share photos. There are a many social networks although most of us think of Facebook right away.
Forums came before social media and were an important predecessor that remains important today. These are sites were online discussion are around a specific hobby, topic, or interest. Information is shared and exchanged and online communities are built.
Blogs are a well known and popular form of social media. A blog is like an online journal. It can be personal or business. They can be based on a specific topic such as fashion or real estate, or they can be more like a diary discussing daily events or news. Blogs
4. Content Communities
Content communities organize and share based on a specific type of content such as videos or photos. YouTube is the biggest content community. There are others such as Flickr or del.icio.us.
Microblogging combines social networking and micro blogs, which are the equivalent of little sound bites. It’s the perfect way of sharing information for mobile devices. Twitter is an excellent example of microblogging and they are considered the leader in the microblogging arena.
Social Media and the Distribution of Information
Social media has grown at a phenomenal rate, faster than any other area of the internet. It wasn’t that many decades ago that the ability to create content and then distribute it to the masses was limited to those with access to television, radio, and print.
If you wanted a video, you would call a television station, which would have employed thousands of professionals who would create, compose, and bring to air your video. If you wanted print material, you would call up a newspaper or magazine that also had teams of writers and editors who would put together your copy and bring it to print.
The internet opened the door to creating one’s own content and distributing that content. But still even a decade ago, it was still beyond the technical skills of most. However, today anyone can create their own content and easily distribute it to the massed. Anyone can take advantage of social media and the powerful marketing tool it presents, whether that’s using a blog, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other social media avenues.
How Social Media Networks Work
Social networks grow and prosper when web surfers find a social media network they want to join, so they sign up, create their profile, and begin to connect with friends, family, coworkers, and contacts. They invite others to join the social network, and those people invite more people and suddenly the social media network has exploded in popularity.
A great deal of MySpace popularity is because of its music services, and with more than three million musicians/bands registered, it should be no surprise that there are more than 200 million registered users.
With more than 750 million users Facebook has quickly sky rocketed to the position of #1 in the social media world. Whether you want to play a game of Scrabble with friends, send a virtual gift, or wish someone a happy birthday, it’s as easy as 1,2,3. The business side of Facebook is quickly growing as more and more companies recognize it for the powerful marketing tool it is.
Of the many social network sites LinkedIn is the one most use to build professional contacts and grow a business. It has received some disapproval for being too closed to the public and for the fees it charges for some of its services, but it is also the second most popular social network site, next to Facebook.