Few could’ve predicted that social media would prove to be as important as it has become. Popular people on various social media platforms sometimes have a wider audience and reach than even some papers or news networks. Indeed, YouTube’s most watched channel is run by a man who’s now a millionaire for playing video games. People lose their jobs just as quickly as they make them, because of what they do on social media. We cannot downplay just how important Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other networks have become.
What is social media?
By now, most of us know what social media is. We’re probably subscribed to several, each one focusing on particular forms of media and communication. One of the best definitions comes from Webtrends from About.com. As they state: “Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.”
Twitter is a short-message social media platform, ideal for staying up to date with news, sites or businesses. Facebook is designed to be more personal, ideal for families and friends, especially those who live far apart. LinkedIn is designed to enhance our careers, letting us meet and associate in related circles and allowing future recruiters to know who we are.
Almost all such services are free.
How do they benefit businesses?
As we noted, the main focus for social media is the ability to send, share, consume and create information. Twitter is ideal for linking to other sites, Facebook allows for large scale live video recording and so on. Businesses must view these as additional tools to help their marketing, if not the business itself.
But not all social media is created the same. As one marketer’s guide highlights: “If you want to create a successful social strategy, you need to familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach and how your business can best use each platform.”
What’s important here is to consider social media as expanding on the platforms for your marketing strategy. These days most marketing courses will have at least some focus on social media. The problem is the platforms themselves are so new, rules are always changing and no one has clear, absolute guidelines.
What we are recognising however is that fewer customers tolerate advertisements in their faces. They don’t want to be bombarded with marketing. We therefore need to be smart about what kind of marketing we practice, how best to serve our clients but to do so without annoying an audience.
These are the skills we must develop in the age of social media.