What is Social Media?

I have been ‘hearing’ this question all over the Internet. It’s important for businesses to be a part of this explosive new era, Social Media Marketing. But before I get ahead of myself lets get to ‘what is social media?’

You have probably heard about LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Squidoo and others. All of these and many more encompass social media. This new communication is a unique form of Internet marketing which strives to build your branding. You participate by writing quality content and comments that match your communication goals with newsworthy and interesting material. Social media utilizes networking and user-generated content platforms to communicate, while gently promoting a product or service.

What networks do you look for? There are many online platforms where you can connect with your target audience. Your business blog being one of the most important. Use your blog to incorporate different types of media such as audio and video. Then you use the social bookmarking sites to spread the word about your content. Also look for niche forums, wikis and online communities that will bring you great opportunities. The most popular online communities at this time are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon, Squidoo, and LinkedIn.

Where is the best place to start? Have you heard the saying ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?’ Start with three networks, you want to be able to manage them so don’t start with too many. The top three networks are currently Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also use your blog to supplement these networks with valuable content. You need to be sure you are sticking to your outlined campaign as it is very easy to get distracted with all the applications in each network. Be sure you take your time when creating your profiles. Provide your website links, use your keywords and provide a good bio. You can have a expert help you with setting up your profiles for optimum results.

Social media will bring your brand to your target audience, you will interact with them and learn from them. Ask questions and you will see exactly what your customers are looking for. By being create and unique you will be off to a successful campaign.

The last part, and be sure not to skip it, is the analytics piece. You can use tools to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. You need to see what is working and what needs adjustment. Analytics can take a lot out of your schedule but it is necessary. You can have your social media specialist create your analytic reports. A specialist can then offer suggestions on how to improve your current campaign.

This new era can change the way people see your business. It can get your name out there and improve or start your online reputation management. Now is the time to act on this new era before your competition does.

The only limitation is your imagination.