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Social Media Basics You Should Learn

Savvy online businessmen recognize that social media is a must for their continued success. Social media and networking sites including Facebook, Blogger and Second Life allow for-profit businesses to establish their brands, increase their sales, and connect with their customers on several levels.

But social media can also be a double-edged sword. In a world where posts, tweets and videos can become viral in a few minutes, a single misstep in social media can ruin the brand’s reputation among its core customers. It then becomes necessary to master its basics. Social media refers to the group of Internet-based applications with Web 2.0 as their common language. Web 2.0 allows its users to create, exchange, and share contents in text, audio-video and graphics formats within virtual communities and networks.

Several types of social media exist with a few more popular than others including but not limited to:

- Collaborative projects like Wikipedia

- Blog platforms like Blogger and WordPress

- Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+

- Professional networking sites like LinkedIn and XING

- Content online communities like YouTube

- Virtual social worlds like Second Life

- Virtual game worlds like World of Warcraft

In addition to these well-known social media applications, mobile social media are also on the rise. Both forms of social media, nonetheless, have created new opportunities and challenges for businesses in many aspects including market research, customer relations and sales promotions. Businesses who fail to keep up with the fast changes in social media technology are more likely to lag behind in the race for the consumers’ pockets.

Why? The statistics on social media tells the story.

- Over 850 million active users in Facebook with 488 million using its mobile format

- Over 517 million individuals are active in Twitter with a million accounts added every day in 2012 alone.

Other social media sites are also increasing in speed in terms of their growth in membership, advertisements and posts/pins. These sites are increasingly becoming the preferred way for individuals to get updated on the latest news, keep connected to their social circles, and make their purchasing decisions.

But social media should be used with care, too. Issues in using these sites include the exclusivity in terms of transfer of information, the reliability of the information distributed, and the ownership of the content, among others. The bottom line: Social media is a tool – use it but use it well.

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