Social Media Basics

Creating a significant online presence has never been easier for small business owners who are savvy enough to capitalize on the benefits of social media in their marketing plans.

In the past, a more detailed knowledge of technology was often required to establish an active online presence, but today’s business owners are finding that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are simple to implement and require very little technical skill to maintain.

Despite their ease of use and popularity, the benefits of social media are truly reaped by those who have a distinct strategy built upon creating a passionate and vibrant online communitybased on active engagement.

Customer Engagement

Customers who are social media users utilize social media platforms because they are looking to become immersed in dynamic online communities centered on shared experiences and similar interests.

Businesses can optimize their visibility on a local or global level by showcasing the products and services they offer as points of common interest between social media users.

Unfortunately, many novice business owners in the world of social media do not adequately research the concept of active engagement, and they often mistakenly assume that social media communication is a one way conversation.

The good news is that online engagement is quite easy to initiate. Asking and answering questions that are related to the industry or directly addressing a specific customer’s experience builds trust.

Furthermore, communicating in a timely and relevant manner shows willingness on the part of a business owner to participate in the creation of a community.

Small business also have the opportunity to foster a passion for their products and services within social media communities. A properly managed community page, for example, can create a platform where customers not only engage with the owner, but where they can engage with each other.

This level of engagement exemplifies one of the greatest benefits of social media since it creates a marketing plan in which customers take the initiative to educate each other and promote products.

Understanding the Customer

In the best case scenario, a well managed social media plan can take on a life of its own and leave wise business owners in the enviable position of letting their customers do their advertising work for them.

Ultimately, the success of a social media marketing plan rests upon a business owner’s ability to leverage the desires of their customers to connect online as well as provide a forum for them to communicate their personal experiences of the product offered.

The benefits of a well executed social media plan are certainly not limited to communication, engagement and fostering passion within a customer base, but these benefits certainly lay the groundwork for others that may follow.

What other benefits do you see from social media initiatives, specifically for small businesses?

As companies put together comprehensive multi-year plans to tackle the rising influence of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the following question arises, are individuals doing the same at a personal level?

With the following list of must-dos I hope to provide a good starting point for those looking to engage in social media and build a personal brand online.

1. Google Yourself

As cliched as it may seem, Googling yourself is actually an eye-opening experience, especially if you participate on websites with comments, reviews, and other interactions.

You may find that someone who shares your name happens to be a convict who regularly tweets about his adventures at a local pub.

Googling yourself provides a lot of insight regarding other personas, what people are saying about you and any other interactions you’ve had online in the past. Yes, the past can come back to haunt you if you said or did something online that would bring your character into question.

2. Protect Your Identity

In today’s hyper-connected world users have no choice but to protect their identities online. There are several things you can do to at least stake a claim to your presence online.

Staking your presence online means that you need to create user accounts on the popular social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. This will ensure that someone doesn’t take your name and tarnish it.

I also suggest that you try to purchase a domain in your name so that you can use that as your official page and the email address when registering accounts online.

You can use this domain to point to your public profile on pages like, Google Profiles, Twitter, or your Facebook page.

3. Create a Business Profile & Join Groups

Create an account on LinkedIn and join groups related to your industry and your company.

If you run your own business, this becomes even more important because you will need to be able to leverage your network to find new business, suppliers, employees, etc.

If you find that there aren’t any groups related to your industry you can always create one and invite your contacts to join in.

4. Use Social Media Tools

The fact that social media interactions are open to the public should be reason enough to scare away a lot of folks, but that most daunting aspect of social media is keeping up with it.

If you stick to using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media services via their respective websites, you will never get anything done.

Instead check out free tools like Seemic Desktop, TweetDeck and Hootsuite that allow you to aggregate you social media profiles to one screen rather than three or four.

5. Participate Publicly

If creating profiles in social media channels is the tip of the iceberg, then participating online is the submerged portion of the iceberg.

Participating in social media channels requires three basic things:

  • Understanding how to use the various channels. You need to know the difference between the @ symbol in Twitter and what # tags mean. So make sure you understand the lingo before delving in social media.
  • You need to exercise prudence when posting online. Everything you say or do online will most likely be there 20 years from now. Employers will Google when you are looking for work and while you are employed.
  • Consistency is important. Participating online requires that you participate frequently and consistently. Doing so will ensure that others follow/subscribe to your feeds and that your content remains current and relevant.

One thing to keep in mind when posting online is to focus on quality rather than quantity, so you are better off tweeting five good articles a week instead of 100 irrelevant tweets.

So there you have it, five must dos to get you started with social media. Have any suggestions or wish to share your experiences? Use the comments form below.

Source What’s Your Social Media Strategy? HBR November 2010.

If you’re looking to get into social media marketing one of the first things you will probably wonder is, What the heck is social media?

We’ve tried answering that in previous posts, however, in the spirit of social media, specifically Twitter. I put together a list of definitions of social media in 140 characters or less.

If you have your own to add feel free to tweet @socialmedjobhq with your definitions in 140 characters or less.

1. Media in digital format that can be created by anyone and shared easily across the web with opportunity for open dialogue.” – Sean McDonald, Oct. 2008

2. Social media is what happens when people use their innate ability to be social and spread the word about a topic, typically using the internet.” – Rachel Levy, Oct.2008

3. Social Media is the media created online through social networks.” – Jacinda [comment], Sept. 2009

4.…Internet media that has the ability to interact with it in some way.” – Robert Scoble, Feb. 2007

5.Social media is conversation in print – through blogs, electronic tools like Facebook, Twitter, and a vast array of other online electronic platforms.” – David from Marketing Integrity.

6.Social media are online communications in which we shift instantly and easily between the role of audience and creator – without needing to know how to code.Joe Thornley, Feb. 2011

7. Social media is the term commonly given to Internet and mobile-based channels and tools that allow users to interact with each other and share opinions and content.

As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement.” –, Social Media Best Practices Guide, April. 2011

8. …news and opinions that influence us(media), from (or through) people we have a relationship with (social)…” – Simon Young [comment], April. 2011

9. Social media are the content and connection that join people online and offline. SM Marketing is the activation of this dynamic to drive a business objective.” – Jon Burg [comment], Nov. 2010

10. Any tool or service that uses the internet to facilitate conversations.” – Brian Solis, Jan. 2010

Okay, so maybe not all the definitions are 140 characters or less, but you get the idea. Social Media is a concept much like management where the definition can vary based on experiences, how it is perceived and used.

What’s you definition of social media?

Social media has become a social force. It is something that both individuals and businesses are using increasingly to network and do both personal and professional business in various ways.

This article will briefly explore this interesting new niche in internet interactivity and commerce.

Basics of Social Media

To answer the question “what is social media” in a basic sense: social media, as it’s used in the web sense, basically refers to websites that allow individuals to interact in a sociable manner and that is based around personalities rather than businesses or websites as such.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and YouTube (the three social media giants) allow individuals or groups to create pages that showcase who they are in a number of attention-getting and interactive ways.

For instance, an individual can put content of a verbal sort, visual elements such as photos or graphical icons, and video on a page to showcase their talents, interests, and general personality. This allows other users to find a page based on the user and to communicate with the user.

Social Media for Persona or Business Use

A slightly more subtle way of answering the what is social media question is to discriminate between social media that is used for business or personal use. Both, as noted above, are a common internet phenomenon.

Personal Use

Personal use of social media networks usually involves simple use of these sites for socialization. Individuals like to keep in contact with other users, look at items of interest that users post, send messages, upload videos and discuss them, and so on.

The primary motivation is here is social rather than monetary. These sites allow users to both communicate with existing friends, relatives, romantic contacts, or professional associates and to make new ones.

Business Use

Business use of social media, by contrast, is profit driven and monetarily motivated. Businesses use social media as a form of advertising. They create pages related to their business, using the interactive and multimedia nature of the sites to drive traffic to a website or landing page.

The simple advantage her for businesses is that social media sites are well trafficked and considered fun by users, so they are likely to check out what businesses have to offer on their social media pages.

Another advantage for businesses involves the fact that social media offers demographic tools and ways to pin point various classes of users. This enables businesses to reach customers that are most likely to be interested in their services.

Search features and diagnostics included with the site and even satellite sites allows companies to get fairly targeted about users they wish to contact or market to. A business can, for instance, send a message about a contest they are running on a social media page to a large group of users in a specific age group.

Jobs in Social Media

Social media jobs are a new employment niche. They may be done remotely as outsourced work or done in house at a specific business. They usually involve managing the social media presence of a company and overseeing its marketing performance.

These sites need to be continually updated in order to maintain user interest and to be checked regularly on how much traffic they are generating. This has enough work associate with it that it is often either a part time or full time job.

These new media jobs often have a lot involved with them. A social media professional may be asked to make video, analyze market trends that relate to social media, put up high quality photographic images, communicate with a large number of users who have interacted with the social media page, and many other tasks.

Social media sites are a daily phenomenon and need to be handled by one or several individuals as such. These new media jobs can be thought of as comparable to working at a television station and handling as specific aspect of broadcasting.

The Right Approach to Social Media for Business Purposes

By all accounts, the thing for a business to emphasize in social media is the entertainment value of the social media site. The people they frequent these sites consider them primarily entertainment and commercial resources second.

This if a business want to attract site subscribers or followers on a social media site they would do well to emphasize the entertainment/interaction aspects of the social media experience.

For instance, a business may run contests or put up entertaining videos that relate to what their business does. Users may initially be attracted to the game like feel of the contests or the fun of watching a funny or interesting video.

Once they show interest via this entertainment avenue, they are more likely to take interest in the business at a commercial level as a provider of goods or services.

Social media is an interesting phenomenon because it brings together social, commercial, and entertainment elements all in one place, offering advantages to socializers, shoppers, and businesses alike.

So what’s your definition of social media?

As more businesses, people and governments start exchanging information and participating in discussions on the internet, there is a growing confusion about what certain terms mean.

New media and social media are a perfect example. Many people are asking is social media the same as new media because the terms are used almost interchangeably.

New Media

New media emerged near the end of the 20th century. At the time, the distinction was between traditional media methods and the emerging possibilities that were provided by the growing technology.

Today the distinction is easier to see when the two are referred to as “old media” and “new media.”

Old media encompasses things like books, magazines, radio and television. These were methods of communication that have been around for decades or even centuries and the vast majority of people were familiar with them.

New media refers to those communication methods that are still emerging as a result of technology. Blogs, text messaging, email, podcasting and streaming video are all examples of new media methods.

The key factor in new media is technology. The technology for these methods was either in its infancy or did not exist 50 years ago.

Social Media

A major reason for the confusion between new media and social media is the fact that both depend on the same technology for existence. Cell phones and the Internet are integral parts of both social and new media communications. The key distinction for social media is “social.”

Social media is interactive. It needs people to participate actively in order to exist. Microblogging site Twitter is a perfect example of social media. One person or company tweets about something.

People who read the tweet respond by sending a tweet back for everyone following the feed to see.

A discussion ensues that is sparked from one post but grows and changes based on the participation those reading and reacting to it.

Distinguishing Between New Media and Social Media

Social media is a distinct subset of new media. In many cases, people will be technically correct when they use new media to describe or refer to a practice that is engaging social media methods.

This practice, however, serves to blur the line between the two. Today, most experts are limiting new media to mono-directional communication.

The Onion is an online news parody outlet that is an example of new media. They present stories but do not allow readers to comment on them. is an example of social media because they ask readers to comment on articles and even invite readers to send in their own video of news worthy events which CNN may publish on their site.

Using these terms interchangeably creates confusion for those who are just beginning to engage in new media and social media. Using the terms correctly will benefit everyone in the long run.

What do you think? Is social media a subset of new media or is it something else?

Image credit birgerking and osseous.