Marketing / Social media

An introduction to social media

If you still think ‘Twitter’ is a noise made by birds and that a ‘Facebook’ is some kind of photo album, this introduction to social media is for you.

2 August 2011 by

Over the past decade, social media has turned the world on its head. If you haven’t yet got your head around what social media is and how it can help your business, this introduction to social media should help you get started.

What is social media?

Social media allows people from anywhere in the world to view, share, comment on and discuss content via the internet. Put very simply, social media takes social interaction online.

The term is distinct from traditional industrial forms of media such as newspapers, magazines and television. It refers to digital forms of media that are hosted on the internet, such as blogs, video and podcasts.

Is social media another passing fad?

Social media has become an important part of the way society functions, and is undoubtedly here to stay. But it’s a rapidly evolving landscape: the forms of social media that are currently the most popular may morph and take on new characteristics in the future, or they may fall out of favour altogether and be replaced by others.

"Think of social media not just as an opportunity to broadcast your message but as a way for consumers to get involved with, connect with and give feedback to your business."

How can social media help my business?

Here are just a few ways social networking could have benefits for your business:

Want more articles like this? Check out the social media section.

  • Gain publicity: Today, many journalists and even television shows have their own Twitter accounts. Identify and follow journalists that cover topics within your area of expertise. They might be looking for a comment to include in their next article; being digitally connected to them means you’ll be one of the first to know – and with a bit of luck you could end up with some great PR!
  • Converse with your customers: Think of social media not just as an opportunity to broadcast your message but as a way for consumers to get involved with, connect with and give feedback to your business. Make it possible to have dialogue with your business and you will find it both builds awareness and generates substantial feedback. A blog is a good way to do this.
  • Contact your target audience: A bit of searching around on Twitter and Facebook can help you find people who are searching for exactly what you have to offer. It can also be used as an opportunity to collaborate or communicate with other businesses that have the same target audience as you. Think of it as traditional face-to-face networking in a digital format.
  • Gain influential testimonials: Bloggers are no longer just glorified diary writers. Some have enormous audiences and are more than willing to advertise something if they believe in its worth. Should you find a blogger you believe would love your product, send it to them. A blog post about your product or service from someone who is influential amongst your target market could generate even more interest than you’d get from PR in the mainstream media.

Find your hub

Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter are currently the most popular social media tools by far, so if you’re going to start anywhere, start with one of these. Once you’ve mastered it, move onto the next.

Take a long term view

Remember it’s not just about setting up a page and walking away. It does take time and effort and the best way to succeed in the long term is to be consistent with your social media efforts. It’s also important to decide in advance how you want your business to be portrayed in social media – this article by Amanda Gonzalez provides some valuable social media tips.

Are you a newbie to social media? Please feel free to ask your questions below.

Jo Macdermott

from Next Marketing works with Marketing Managers who need a safe pair of executional hands, Entrepreneurs in funded startups and small and medium businesses with $50K plus annual marketing budgets. You can also connect with Jo on LinkedIn.


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