Social Media 101: What is social media and what can it do for you?

If you or your company are just beginning to venture into Web 2.0 (that’s geek-speak for this new era of social sharing through the Internet), trying to understand social media and what it has to offer may not be a walk in the park.  Heck, to be honest, most of the time, social media professionals have to remind themselves what it is, because the truth is–social media is evolving every second.  The industry is so new that if you don’t stay up-to-date on platforms and updates, you will get lost.  But, there’s also an up side to the madness.  It’s not hard to catch up, nor is it hard to understand once you get some basics down.

So what is social media?  It’s essentially a medium where people can share information, ideas, and opinions immediately to a targeted audience.  Think about a virtual newspaper, in which you are the editor and the consumer.  You can choose what you want to read about, who you want to read about, what photos you want to see, what videos you want to watch, as well as publish whatever information you want to communicate to the world, whenever you want to, to whomever you want to–all for free.  It is basically the new “word-of-mouth”.

Now, bask in all that information for a second…then think about it from a business stand point.  With social media, you have the opportunity to shape conversations about your brand.  You also have the opportunity to market research and see what people are saying about your competitors and your industry.  Plus, compared to the thousands, the average company usually spend on billboards, TV commercials, print ads, and other traditional media advertisements, social media is budget-friendly and staff-friendly.

Next time, we will explore what relationship building’s role is in social media for brands and what it means for your company in an Internet-centric world.

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