Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.
Much of the criticism of social media are about its exclusiveness as most sites do not allow the transfer of information from one to another, disparity of information available, issues with trustworthiness and reliability of information presented, concentration, ownership of media content, and the meaning of interactions created by social media. However, it is also argued that social media has positive effects such as allowing the democratization of the internet while also allowing individuals to advertise themselves and form friendships
Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. By applying a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) so we can create a classification scheme with six different types of social media: collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter), content communities (for example, YouTube and DailyMotion), social networking sites (for example, Facebook, myspace, linked in), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.
The importance of Social Media and the Developing Role in the Modern Business World!
Social media, although a relatively recent phenomenon, is becoming an increasingly important part of any business’s marketing and client base development platform. The perception of social media marketing has shifted quickly—no longer viewed as a trendy or passing fad, having a flexible and well-managed presence in each of the “big three” (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) has become a must for any business seeking to secure a place in both the traditional and digital marketplace. What could once be accomplished by a traditional website now needs to be supplemented by a robust and responsive utilization of the tools social media offers. Navigating this strange, new world can be quite confusing at first, so here are some tips for those looking to bring their business up to speed.
Here are some quick facts about the role social media is currently playing in the business world, courtesy of the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report:
- 94% of all businesses with a marketing department used social media as part of their marketing platform
- Almost 60% of marketers are devoting the equivalent of a full work day to social media marketing development and maintenance
- 43% of people aged 20-29 spend more than 10 hours a week on social media sites
- 85% of all businesses that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure
- 58% of businesses that have used social media marketing for over 3 years reported an increase in sales over that period
The “Big Three”
There are three primary social media outlets that businesses use. Here is a basic overview of each outlet:
- Facebook: Facebook’s modest beginning, as a simple networking tool for college students (mainly designed to allow students to let their friends know where the parties were, and to look at the pictures from those parties afterward), belies its current status as a variable and integrated tool for business marketing. The primary method that businesses use to exploit Facebook’s marketing possibilities is by creating a “page” for their business (akin to having a website “on” Facebook itself—think of it as having an interactive yellow pages listing), which Facebook users can follow. Businesses can then use their page to market their products, offer deals, and build their brand.
- Twitter: Like Facebook, Twitter began as a social networking tool—a way for friends to keep in touch—but has blossomed into a full-scale business marketing tool. Twitter uses 140 character “tweets” (short messages) that appear in the homepage of all users who “follow” the account. Businesses can use these to release news, market their products, and direct attention to special offers and new content. Hashtags (a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign) can also be searched for on twitter, meaning that followers or users looking for info on that topic can be directed to your account by simply attaching a hashtag to particular concepts or ideas in your business’s tweets.
- Google+: Google+ is a relative newcomer but is quickly becoming an important tool
for businesses looking to increase their presence in the world of social media marketing. Google+ has features that enable businesses to utilize its model in the ways Twitter and Facebook are used (product marketing, news release, the building of a “follower” base, etc.), but also has several facets these others do not. Google+’s “Promote” option allows you to customize your promotional content by creating different groupings of followers that you can then market differently to, and their “Measure” feature gives businesses an interactive measurement of how their Google+ page is being used. Google+ also offers a tutorial for businesses which gives advice on how best to use its features