What is social media?
You’ve probably already used a social media tool or two for business or personal purposes. Examples include consumer review websites, email and instant messaging, blogs, forums and message boards, wikis, podcasts, photo and video sharing technologies, web-based project collaboration tools and more.
Simply put, social media is an umbrella term used to describe the myriad of web-based and mobile technologies that facilitate social interaction and the sharing of words, photos and video.
As opposed to broadcast media (TV, newspapers, print and the like) which pushes information out to an audience, social media relies on audience participation as a driver, allowing individuals with common interests to quickly and easily use technology to interact and exchange information in the electronic world. The goal of the social media phenomenon is to encourage free dialogue by making information exchange a democratic process.
Facebook and Twitter are probably the most well-known social media tools available. Twitter lets you send short messages out across the Internet to users who choose to “follow” you, while Facebook lets you interact with others in a more complex communications environment. Other popular tools include LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.
For marketing purposes, think of social media as a toolkit that can help you tap into the growing trend toward peer-to-peer recommendations and referrals. Social media can be an inexpensive way to listen to your constituents, build relationships, establish credibility, promote your mission, and grow trust about you and your organization.
For more information on social media tools and the role it can play in advancing your objectives, see Marketing & Communications.