What is social media?
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Social media is a genre of online resources for connecting users with a sphere of influence, and exchanging information and ideas via real-time conversations. Social media can take many forms:
Blogs – Social media can take the form of an online forum where a person or company posts articles about their particular field or interest. Visitors to the blog can comment on the articles, engage in discussion on the topics presented, and subscribe to the blog for constant updates on news articles and information. The best blogs foster two-way communication between the blogger and the audience. Many times, groups who frequent a particular blog will use it as an opportunity to network with other participants. Blogs are a great way to engage an audience and develop a credible reputation within an industry.
Social Networking Sites – Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, allow users to interact though profile pages, and by connecting with others through people or companies one already knows. In personal networking, users may connect with friends and family they already know, and through them find other connections to friends old and new. For commercial purposes, profiles can offer information and links to products and services, sneak previews of upcoming events and special offers. In the same way as personal profiles, company profiles allow users to find new peers and prospects through connections they already have.
Review and Location-based Sites – The newest trend in social media platforms are rating websites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt. These sites allow allow users to “check in” at businesses and locations they frequent, and in some cases, review and rate their experience. These sites also allow users to connect with people they know and meet others who share similar interests. By becoming “friends” on these sites, users gain easy access to the new places and attractions other site members frequent. Foursquare combines the basics of location-based updates with a reward element, where users can “unlock” features and become VIP customers (called “Mayors”) at specific establishments. In response to this merit-based system, companies are offering special discounts to VIPs as an incentive to spread the word. The success of this model has led to merit-based systems on other sites.
Professional Networking Sites – Networking is integral to business, as much for the value of professional affiliations as cultivating business prospects. Where Facebook was originally developed as a networking tool for college and university students, LinkedIn was developed as a means by which professionals could manage career and resume information online, connect to share information on a particular industry, as well as provide job listings, references and recommendations to trusted professionals and contacts.