Social media is a type of online media that expedites conversation as opposed to traditional media, which delivers content but doesn't allow readers/viewers/listeners to participate in the creation or development of the content.
I particularly like Ron Jones' social media definition:
"Social media essentially is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online."
There is a wide variety of social media, ranging from social sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr through social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
In my opinion, social media has shot to the forefront of people's attention because it's fun. Thanks to social media, it's easy to share your ideas, photos, videos, likes and dislikes, with the world at large — and find out what they think of them. You can find friends, business contacts and become part of a community or a bunch of different communities. Social media gives you what TV never could — a chance to be engaged and engage others.
Because of this, social media is of particular interest to businesses. Currently, businesses of all sizes are embracing social media marketing as a low-cost form of business promotion, grappling with the question of how to get in on what appears to be an especially viral way to get their message (and their products) out there.
If you run a small business, How to Create a Social Media Plan explains how you can pick the best kinds of social media to promote your business and how to design and implement a winning social media strategy.
The Most Popular Forms of Social Media
Founded in 2004, Facebook is the most well-known form of social media, with over a billion active members.
It allows users to create a profile and share status updates, photos, videos, and exchange messages. Creating a Facebook fan page is a popular low-cost way to promote your business and keep your customers informed about your products and services. To get started with Facebook for business see:
- How to Create a Business Page on Facebook
- How to Create a Facebook Welcome Page
Twitter allows registered users to send short messages (called "tweets") to "followers". Tweeting has also been referred to as "microblogging" since tweets are limited to 140 characters in length. Over 500 million tweets are sent out every day. Businesses use Twitter as a marketing vehicle by keeping followers up to date with product offerings via regular tweets. It is also commonly used by businesses to respond to customer support queries. For more information on Twitter see:
- Why Your Business Should Use Twitter
- How to Use Twitter (A Get Started Guide)
- 5 Tips for Promoting Your Business on Twitter
LinkedIn is a social networking service for business professionals. Users can create profiles and form professional relationships by "connecting" with other users. Businesses can use LinkedIn as a low-cost marketing tool by posting product/service announcements or other company news.
Employees can post their own profiles and link to the business, thereby showcasing company talent with prospective customers. For more information on LinkedIn see:
- Leverage LinkedIn to Increase Your Business
- Introduction to LinkedIn Social Networking Service
- How to Create a Custom LinkedIn Profile URL
Pinterest can be described as a virtual pin board. Users can create and share collections of images, text, webpage links, etc. and organize them into "boards". Pinterest content can be shared by sending "pins" to other users. Businesses can promote their products/services by combining images and text in an eye-catching, informative way. Other Pinterest users can "repin" your content, increasing your exposure and driving traffic to your business website. To get started with Pinterest see:
- Should Your Business Use Pinterest?
- How to Best Use Pinterest for Your Business
- 7 Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Small Business
These are, as the heading suggests, only some of the more popular forms of social media; other examples include LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Reddit. As well, new social media platforms are being created and gaining popularity every day.