Social Media defined is “the use of electronic and internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with other human beings.
The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.” (Thanks to Wikipedia).
Social media is unlike conventional media such as newspapers, television, books, and radio; conventional media is a one-way dialogue where as social media is an interactive two-way discussion. The video below clearly explains social media in a creative, down to earth way filmed by Common Craft.
Realizing that it is a two-way discussion, companies have the opportunity with social media to communicate with their target market. You can get feedback from consumers, companies, and employees that you wouldn’t have received before. I like to generalize social media into four different types, blogs, feeds, networking and… other.
What is a Blog?
A blog is fundamentally a website that is regularly updated with posts. Blog posts can be comments, observations, description, events, pictures, videos and any combinations of those. Most blogs have the ability for readers to write comments on posts. (You’re reading my blog post so you probably have a good idea what one is).
What is a Feed?
A web feed (or news feed) is a form of data used to provide users with frequently updated content. For example you can use feeds to keep yourself updated in the blogging world using Google Reader. By having a feed on your site you can keep others updated with your recent news.
Wikipedia defines it as “a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by an Internet aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.”
What is a Social Network?
A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as comment boxes, blogs, and instant messaging services.
Social networking has revolutionized the way we communicate and share information with one another in today's society. Various social networking websites are being used by millions of people every day on a regular basis and it now seems that social networking is a part of everyday life. Have you heard of Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn? These are perfect examples of social networks.
Personally I use facebook for almost all of my emails, instant messenger, photos, videos because most of my friends have facebook accounts (few are still to “cave into facebook”).
What is Other?
The “other” category is where I lump all the types that don’t fit nicely into blogs, feeds and social networking sites. Flickr is a photography based social media that allows to upload and share your photos and videos. Last.fm is a personal music social media. Last.fm will identify what music you play on your computer and make recommendation for new music you should listen to based on the genre, artist, etc. You can share music you’ve found with other users as well. There are many more types of “other” social media sites on the web.
Are you Applying it to Business?
Blogging, feeds and social networking sites are now option for your business to further promote itself. Establishing your company's presence on social media sites allow you to communicate your messages to consumers and industry and for them to talk back to you. It is a great way to share news and point people to the company website for more info.
Are you using a social media as a part of your business? Do you feel like it is building your brand image or are you spending hours wasting time? Which social media are you using, audio, video, words, pictures or combinations?