What is it?

Social Media is today’s word-of-mouth. The only difference is its reach.

The story of Susan Boyle illustrates the speed and reach of social media. One week Susan was leading a quiet life in small-town Scotland, singing occasionally in church. The next week, more than 10 million people knew who she was thanks to an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent and a youtube video of her performance. Prior to youtube, she might have garnered some attention in England and Scotland but would be virtually unknown elsewhere.

What is social media then? Social media is made up of websites where you can see what others are saying about a particular topic and share your own ideas. You can share videos that inspire you and news about new products and services and politics.

Social media is a bit like going to a party or gathering informally in a village square to chat.

Sometimes, businesses get really excited by the possibilities of social media only to commit some major faux pas. Imagine someone entering that party mentioned above and shouting, “I’m selling widegets! Buy some now!” It wouldn’t go over very well. Direct selling is not the purpose of social media. Social media is all about sharing ideas, photos, links and information. Social media is about building relationships with your customers and learning from them as well as sharing new and exciting information with them.

It’s not important to understand the workings of each and every type of social media to be able to start thinking about how it could work for you.

Are you involved in social media if you don’t have a blog or Facebook account or Twitter presence? The answer to that is, “probably.” People may be talking about your product or service or company right now.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the various types of social media.

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