What is Social Media?
Updated: Nov 29, 2017
While attending a conference, I noticed how each speaker displayed their presentation and included some discussion about popular and some lesser known social media platforms.
They spoke about these platforms and offered some tips and new techniques, but the information they shared was at an advanced level.
They offered great tips, so I wondered what other people thought about the new information. I looked around, and I saw an occasional baffled look and some raised eyebrows. Some of the most significant and most helpful tools that could elevate the marketing efforts for these small business owners were presented in a way they barely understood.
This experience helped me to realize that before I even start a conversation with you about social media trends and using social media to advance your business. I should further your understanding of it by offering a brief introduction to social media and how it has transformed our lives.
So, here we go.
Social media provides an experience. It takes you from your physical reality to a digital world. This world assembles groups of people to socialize and create online communities.
So, it’s an extended dimension of person-to-person interactions and communications.
Conversations on social media are much like “watercooler conversations.”
A few decades ago, think before the Internet, people would gravitate to watercoolers situated near a break room or against a random wall in their workplace. The location of the watercooler served as a hangout area. A place where people would take their 15-minute breaks, so they could pause and reflect on their day with their colleagues.
The conversations ranged from simple chats like, “What about this heatwave, huh? Phew, can’t wait for it to cool off,” to talks about mutual interests and hobbies, like “ Hey, did you see that last play in the SuperBowl last night? Amazing, how he caught the ball mid-air right before falling onto the goal line.”
The watercoolers were a place where people talked about the books they read, their recent travels, their career and life goals, their family and friends, the best restaurants for date night and special occasions.
The conversation may have begun with two people, but within moments more intriguing discussions or controversial topics would catch the ears of other coworkers and encourage them to share their thoughts. Before you knew it, a small community of people would congregate around the watercooler.
Now, take this experience at the watercooler, and put it in the online environment. Here, in this digital world, the conversations can become so much more detailed, visual, and intriguing. People can immediately show and tell and express themselves with pictures, videos, gifs, and live streams. They can create and define their own communities, and instead of one watercooler conversation, people can start and participate in several discussions. The interaction takes place within networking sites and applications generally in the form of blogs, microblogs, forums, photos, and videos.
Social media is an experience that lets you connect with others in real-time. This is when a message is sent and received from one computer system to the next at the same moment.
This makes social media less restricted when it's compared to conversations that take place over the phone or through email.
For example, when you make a phone call, your voice message is received when a person either picks up the phone or listens to their voicemail. A written email message is received when a person opens up the message that’s sent to an inbox with several other messages.
On the otherhand, if a person is present on the Internet, or online, you can connect with that person at any given moment, and the message can be supported by photos and videos and other items. One single post can contain a message that reaches several people, and a live stream can include one or several groups of people in an experience.
Social media is a transformational tool. It extends communicaton from our physical world into the digital landscape. Social media networking sites are a place where a community of people can gather to share information and experiences.