What is Social Media?

To me this is an easy question to answer, but a hard one to explain.

Let’s start with the easy answer:

Social Media is word of mouth on steroids.
or, if you want to say it without a reference to drugs
Social Media is word of mouth in overdrive .

Social Media is a new way of quickly and efficiently communicating and building relationships. Social Media tools are often used to support this.

And now to explain it:
Like 2.0, Social Media has a few specific trades.

Social Media characteristics

Empowering users
Users can contribute and give their feedback to anyone about anything.Social Media - Law of Attraction

Two-way conversation
Now that the users are empowered, businesses can no longer just broadcast their information to users, they will have to engage into the conversation with them to keep them informed and engaged with their company.

The big thing about Social Media is the fact that people are engaging with each other and with businesses. The fact that sharing of information is encouraged means that some form of transparency is also needed. Filling in many forms or creating a password just to give feedback is not done.

Social Media connects people. It usually starts with connecting family and friends and updating them with your personal stories. It than evolves into connecting with or linking to people with the same interest or hobby, co-workers, businesses etc.

Community building
By connecting to other people slowly but surely communities start to built. Social Media allows people to share common interest and keep each other up to date about it.

Social Media is also all about timing. If you’re into Social Media, you have to be up to date about your field of expertise. We’re not talking days here, but hours, sometimes even minutes. Even people that are into Social Media from a personal perspective have to keep their information up-to-date to stay of interest to the people they are connected to.

All these characteristics combined make Social Media what it is today. It is all about sharing what you like or dislike with the people and/or businesses you are connected to. And the way to share it is by using one or more of the Social Media tools and applications that are available.

What are Social Media Tools?

Social Media tools and applications are tools that people use to share information with their network (friends, family, co-workers etc.).  A few tools are:

Blogs (Blogger, WordPress, TypePad etc.)
Micro-blogging (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.)
Social Networking (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Hyves etc.)
Multimedia (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Skype, Last.fm, etct)
Bookmarking and news (Delicious, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon etc.)

Not only are people using these tools to share information, more and more businesses are getting into the world of Social Media. They are even creating special Social Media Marketing plans for this. For them it is a good way to get feedback from their customer directly and perhaps even fix issues on the spot if possible.

All in all these tools help people spread the word about the things that they see, hear or experience. Where usually your story wouldn’t go far beyond the reach of your family and friends, now however your story can cross the globe in a matter of minutes.

So it’s like I said, Social Media is word of mouth on steroids!

What is your take on Social Media?

Image by: Intersection Consulting