Social Media — Why It Matters and Business Implementations
What is the keyword that makes social media an entirely different beast than traditional mass media? If I could summarize the difference in one word, it should be control.
Nowadays, companies could no longer shape the message as they want it to appear to the public. If they still could, their ability has been severely limited.
A Tad of History of Printing Press
It all started by Johannes Gutenberg who revolutionize publishing and information dissemination. This model was used by the mass media and as we all know it, mass media control the content.
Businesses and other sources are at the bottom of the pyramid. They fight for a share in the media, but most of them fail miserably. Worst of all, they can’t do anything about it because they are not decision makers.
Blog to the rescue. By far, it is probably the most common form for social media. At least one that is comparable to mass media. Now everyone can start a blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com and immediately gets the words out. If the blogger is good at being the point of attention, the message could spread very quickly.
Social Media is Social
That means, your sole purpose of using a blog or any other social media is not only to get your message out.
While social media can take many different forms, including discussion boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts (audio), pictures, and video, let’s continue the discussion about blogging.
One of the most important tasks for every blogger is to monitor what others are saying about your company or brand. In some ways, this is even more important than starting and owning a blog.
Being responsive to the conversation is not optional nowadays because whether you like it or not, the conversation continues with or without you. History — just not so long ago — teaches us not to disregard such conversations around the blogosphere. And now it extends beyond blogosphere to the whole social media…
Every blog post in its original format is conversation that tied to a moment. If a company can track on-going conversations simultaneously among millions of blogs, it is a very powerful way to tap into the market.
With flexible filtering, you can tune into whichever conversation you want to hear and care about.
Tsunami and Social Media
Although there are practically endless examples of social media in business and how it changes the media, the Asian tsunami in December 2004 has its place because it demonstrated the power of citizen reporters.
Bloggers from all over the world posted and distributed pictures, video footage and stories about the disaster. The coverage was not just an overview, but accurately represents individual experience.
Social Media for Communication
Without doubt, this is the most popular application of social media. All other applications have communication element in them, but applications that allow direct communication include blogs, microblogs, social networking, social network aggregation and event trackers.
Micro Blogging is an Entirely Different Beast
Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, and Plurk are just a few examples of micro blogging platforms. Although the name still implies it is blogging, they are quite a different tool.
Micro blogging is usually limited to 140 characters, so being concise is important to get across your message effectively. Because of it, it is also fast.
Like blogging, microblogs can be used in different ways and it is common that micro bloggers use a platform to send quick messages and respond to followers through the medium. The speed and level of interaction is higher than a blog.
Learn more about using Twitter through this article series:
- Twitter for Business — An Introductory Guide
- How to Twitter — Tips and Tools to Get You Started
- Twitter Tutorial — Twittering for Fun and Profit
- Using Twitter — A Quickstart Plan for Your Business
- Useful Twitter Tools and How to Use Them
- Hacking Twitter — How to Get the Most Out of Twitter
- Twitter Marketing — How to Get Followers and Interact with Them
Social Network as Community
Let’s face it. The existence of blogging tool means nothing without a way to aggregate and monitor the blogosphere in one way or another. That makes the messages useful.
Social networks allow a group of people who share the same interest to gather in a virtual place and exchange ideas, form relationships, share information, for education, trade stuff, and do more. Without social network, people are independent.
With a medium that encourages interaction, great things may happen.
Social Media Encourage Collaboration
The idea is that the aggregation of public knowledge can be extremely useful for the mass. This may be prone to game, like with any system, but some applications that have been proven to be useful include wikis, social bookmarking, social news and opinion sites.
It builds based on the premise that if enough people vote for a product, web page, or place, presumably other people who share the same interest would find it useful too.
Multimedia Content Aggregation with Social Media
The advance of technology and high speed Internet access make it possible for people to share multimedia content conveniently.
Photo sharing services are now very common not only for a geek but also photographers and average people who want to create and share pictures. The same thing exists for video and audio.
Livecasting services allow direct interaction between the broadcaster and his audience. Combined with microblogging and chat, interaction is not merely from one point to another but it could happen both ways.
Entertainment and Social Media
Social media extend beyond communication, collaboration and multimedia. Virtual worlds and online gaming are just two examples of how social media can be useful in entertainment industry.
The Role of RSS in Social Media
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) has been around for years but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its potential.
A significant part of the magic we have seen in social media is due to RSS feeds. Basically, it allows anyone to track content without having to manually check the sources for updates every so often. The software, called RSS reader or aggregator, does this on your behalf.
RSS is not only for message delivery from the a publisher to end consumers. As the name implies, it also allows syndication from the source to another source.
To take it even further, RSS feed also supports syndication of content beyond the norm, including audio and video files. Nowadays, content publishers take advantage of this medium, called podcasting, to let the end users consume content easily.
With RSS, content delivery problems because of spam filtering are part of the past.
Social media has revolutionizes how people do business online. Small businesses, even individuals, now have the same level of playing field with big companies.
If you have something worth it, messages spreads like wildfire. On the other hand, businesses who are not going the extra miles to make sure their customers are satisfied with the product, service and the whole user experience are killing themselves faster than they may realize.
It is not a choice nowadays. Whether you join and develop a strategy that works to grow your business or it may come back to you later through one way or another. The latter may put your brand or business at stake.
Social media is all the rage that web browsers begin to integrate features into the software. In fact, there’s a special web browser that focuses on social media. See my review of Flock.
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