What is social media?

The world wide web connects us, the language we use to create webpages helps catalog information, social media tools allows us to find each other based on ideas rather than location.  The phenomena of using online digital tools to interact takes us beyond the original intent of internet inventor, Tim Berners-Leewho’s goal was to create a social aspect to work flow, and allow the 2.2 billion internet users worldwide to share information, opinions, knowledge and interests.  Social media tools create communities and networks built around common interests, that encourage participation and engagement.  Social media is people | interacting  | online.

 

How many social media sites are there? - Conversation Prism - Brian Solis
How many social media sites are there?

What does this mean for your business?

Social media has enhance our lives in ways we understand and ways we are still discovering.

By using social media, local city government has become more accessible  allowing city leaders to reach and inform a greater number of citizens, improve customer service and allowing small business owners to join conversations relevant to city, state and federal regulations that affect their bottom line.

Mainstream media has been completely disrupted.  News outlets frequently get their information from tweets posted by those who were previously consumers of the news, and although this has been devastating for some, communications professionals everywhere are finding ways to using social media to enhance the dialogue on topics of interest and concern.

When traveling, consumers have access not only to comparison pricing, but to reviews, photos and stories about every aspect of their destination.  Of those consumers who used social media to research their travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original plans.

Businesses everywhere face online review at every search point, restaurants are an example.

  • Yelp.com – a site used specifically to provide and seek out reviews of a business
  • OpenTable.com – a tool used to find a restaurant nearby with an open reservation, but that also encourages consumer reviews
  • UrbanSpoon.com which finds restaurants in a particular city and includes both customer reviews and critic reviews
  • GooglePlaces.com – claiming your business on GooglePlaces can be beneficial, not only making it easier for your customers to find you, but an opportunity to begin branding before they have even reached your website.

Customized products personalized by the customer takes some of the guesswork out of product design.  Converse offers customers the option to custom design shoes, share their design on the Converse website and of course promote their creation on facebook, effectively creating micro- branding and marketing departments along with each sale.

Social media and online technology are here to stay.  Generation Y has an expectation of accessible, social customer service.  Update your budget and branding strategy to incorporate the social aspect of your business, whatever that may be.  Even if you are not in a position to  offer customized products, any business can personalize customer service!

Resource Links

Become a Web-Savvy Entrepreneur – Inc.com

National Federation of Small Business

Small Business Association – sba.gov
(local offices)