What is it? Social media is a category of sites and applications that rely on user participation and whose content is generated by users. Social media is all about the interaction between users. It allows them to share opinions, thoughts, experiences and insights with one another. It is like having a conversation with a group of friends, colleagues or acquaintances, except that instead of having the conversation over coffee, at a networking mixer or at a basketball game, you’re doing it via different technologies.
What does it do? Social media can do a million things, but ultimately it all comes back to connecting people. It can be consumers connecting with fellow consumers, consumers connecting with companies, people connecting with friends and family or fans connecting with Britney Spears. Social media brings together people with common interests, whether they are personal or professional.
Why should you use it? This question can be answered differently depending on who “you” is, so for today, let's focus on a business perspective.
Businesses should use social media if:
- they want to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty
- they want to build a relationship with consumers that allows them to instantly and easily obtain feedback on products, services, ad campaigns, etc.
- they want to be a part of the online conversation about their brand
- they want to leverage these cost-effective social media tools to drive traffic to their website, stores, etc.
How do you use Social Media? Each social media tool has its own set of “how to”s and we will cover these tools separately in future Client Corner posts. (Also, feel free to ask questions about how to use particular tools in the comment section below.) However, in general you want to use social media as a tool to engage with your consumers. This is not the medium to use if all you have is a sales pitch. If all you do is push your product social media marketing WILL NOT WORK. Think about how you would react if your “friend” did nothing but pitch their product to you every time you got a call or went out for dinner. Wouldn’t be long before you started avoiding those calls or feeling “under the weather” when they invited you out, right? Same rules apply here. Social media is all about forming relationships and giving something of value to your online community. There are different things you could do for them. You could provide fast and easy customer service, like Sprint and Comcast have done on Twitter. You could provide an “inside peak” to fans like Britney Spears is doing through Facebook, MySpace and her blog. If you’re a smaller business you can provide industry insights and tips, like we at Zuno try to do for our community. You will have to figure out what it is you can give your followers that they would consider valuable.
A few examples of popular social media sites/networks are:
- LinkedIn - Network Best for Professional Social Networking
- Facebook - Network Best for Social Networking with Friends, Family and Colleagues on a Casual Basis
- Twitter - Microblogging Tool
- MySpace - Network Best for reaching a younger demographic and those interested in music and entertainment
- Club Penguin - Network for kids created by Disney
- Digg - Social News Site
- YouTube - Video Sharing Tool
- Flickr - Photo Sharing Tool
- Ning- Application that allows you to create your own social network and find niche networks created by others
Next Week's Term: Next week we'll delve a little deeper into the "it" network of the moment. Twitter.