It is an amazing world we live in. Technology has made the world smaller than it ever was before by connecting people all over the world through social media. So what is social media really? Well, let's break it up into the two terms that we use to define it: social & media. I think social is fairly easy to understand that it is how we in engage with others (or at least I am going to define it that way…). Media we will think of as information that way we are not limited by a classical understanding by which one would limit the channels to which the information could and would come from. You could ignore my definition and opt for the Wikipedia definition and I think you will still be able to derive the same conclusions that I have in the following posts.
Types of social media include things like e-mails, chat rooms, message boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and I would venture to say that most things that you can find on-line would have some component of social media that they participate in.
Why is social media important? To answer that we need to consider what makes human being, well, human beings. I think at the heart of it is that we are by nature social beings and as we create, invent, and dream up technology we inherently look for ways to connect with others. These new and old technologies have made it possible for us to connect or “socialize” in ways we that were not possible in the old world before computers and telephones before that. Communities are no longer bound by geography and can be based on a simple love of rocks, trees, comic books, skateboards, art, music, pain - sorrows, tribulations, motherhood, fatherhood; it really is limitless in complexity and simplicity. These artificial communities exist not only in the abstract sense but they also have a firm foot in the here and now.
What does this translate to in “real life”? Marketers (like me) and businesses look to these communities as a way to market or hand sell to their consumers. We want to meet and speak to our customers and target market when, where, and however we can, on-line communities offer that possibility in a unique way.
Social media has become the heart and blood of how many companies find and sell to their customers. So the importance of social media is not only to the media, marketers, businesses, and sales people, but also to the consumer who can and do frame how they are marketed to. Consumers have a new voice and a new power for change.
We have seen various examples of this recently:
Toyota, Southwest, Tiger Woods, Sigg, and many more companies/celebrities have found out what happens when consumers have a voice and a viral voice at that.