Can you define Social Media? If you can’t, you are not alone. Social Media is one of those terms that people think they should know, but most are not sure what it means. That’s okay for now. Today only. Why? Because social media is already having an impact on your business; most likely a negative impact if you don’t know what it means.
Social Media Defined
Do a search for Social Media and you will find many definitions. For our purposes, Social Media simply means using the Internet to generate content, converse with others, form communities, and to communicate. If you have ever written or read a blog, posted or watched a YouTube video, listened to a podcast, taken an online course or sent a text message, you have participated in Social Media.
Where Did Social Media Come From
To understand where Social Media came from, it helps to understand a little about the growth of the Internet. The first inklings of the Internet go back to the 60’s. In the 80’s the Internet Protocol was standardized which was the beginning of the Internet as we think of it today. Early on the Internet was used by scientist to send files and communicate back and forth. Certainly early Internet pioneers did not envision the growth that was to come, Twitter, podcasting or any of what we think of today as Social Media.
The Internet Grows Up
The Internet grew from a few scientist using it to send files to 16 million users in 1995. By 2010 there will be an estimated 1.6 billion people using the internet. Maybe more interesting than the growth is that nearly 25% of the world’s population now use the Internet.
A Lot of People Use the Internet – So What?
First, 25% of the world’s population is a lot of people. The world literally is at your doorstep. Second, as people have tuned into the internet, they have tuned out traditional marketing and advertising. Today’s Internet user ignores your direct mail piece or interruptive TV commercial.
What About Your Website
You might be thinking that your website is your Internet presence and that’s enough. It’s not. Yes, your search engine optimized website is the cornerstone of your Internet presence. But it is not enough; especially if you want to be ahead in the game.
Some Social Media Numbers
Here are some Social Media statistics as of July 2009.200 million active Facebook users100 million Facebook users log on at least once a dayTwo-thirds of Facebook users are outside of college9 million people on Twitter100 million blogsover 100 million MySpace usersNot surprisingly these numbers came from a Google search for the number of users on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And not surprisingly they may be a little off. However, it is the magnitude and trend of the numbers that is important; not the actual numbers.
The point is there are hundreds of millions of people using Social Media and that number is growing. More and more your customers will expect you to join in on the online collaboration that is Social Media. Don’t be surprised when you start getting asked for your Facebook profile instead of your website.
What You Should Do Right Now to Get Started with Social MediaCreate a Facebook personal account and business pageCreate a Twitter AccountCreate a profile on LinkedinStart a blogNo Really Start Right Now
Many people find the idea of “tweeting” ridiculous. And they wonder how someone could have enough time to sit around poking people on Facebook. I’ll admit it is outside the realm of what we considered normal business practice and it takes some getting used to. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to put aside your misgivings about Social Media and give it a try. Not because I want another friend on Facebook, but because your future business depends on it. If you really can’t fathom the idea of expressing yourself in 140 words or less on Twitter, hire the first teenager you can find as your Social Media Director.
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