Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Social media for dummies (including my old self)

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Social media is the buzzword doing the rounds in several media forums, alongside the likes of SEO copywriting. But what does the term social media actually stand for? Wikipedia defines it as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues.”

This is a good way of putting it, but why are media pros mesmerised by it? Again Wikipedia’s entry is spot on: “One of the key components in successful social media marketing implementation is building ‘social authority’. Social authority is developed when an individual or organization establishes themselves as an ‘expert’ in their given field or area, thereby becoming an ‘influencer’ in that field or area.”

This explains why PR and marketing professionals are getting hot under the collar about it. But what are the tools and channels for building social authority? Wikipedia offers several examples – they are so widespread that even a technophobe with a dial-up internet access might, at some point, have been involved with at least one of them. Among the communication tools, we have blogging, microblogging (ie Twitter), social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc), event groups ( and online fundraising (justgiving comes to my mind for the UK). Moving on, there are collaboration projects and authority building sites such as Wikis - Wikileaks is topical right now in the political arena. Then there is social bookmarking and social news, which include StumbleUpon, delicious, digg... And more categories involving photography, art, video, broadcasting, music and even product and business reviews. And let’s not forget the brand monitoring brigade with their Statsit... The more I read about social media, the more I realise that it’s like quicksand gobbling us all up. 

I have certainly come a long way from my virtual girl blog posted in March. Since then I have been thrown into the deep end of social media through SEO copywriting, my involvement with PR and marketing forums (where social media marketing strategies are discussed on a daily basis) and through my blogs, which carry affiliate marketing links. And let's not forget my personal interests and passions, all lavishly catered for by a plethora of websites. It's really sink or swim, so excuse me while I grab my virtual board and learn to surf this big tidal wave called social media...

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