Social media: the cold hard facts

Where have you been? Haven't you heard? Sign-up to Twitter, get your business on Facebook and all your marketing dreams will come true. You can tear up your marketing plans, spend your advertising budget elsewhere, just sit back and watch your witty chit chat pull in the punters, for social media is here to save the day.

Well, despite the Twitter gushing you've almost certainly read in the press or from self-coined 'social media evangelists', it obviously isn't as easy as all that.

So what can social media do for your business? Well an awful lot, actually. And don't get us wrong, here at Smarta we're enthusiastic social media users. We're driving our business forward by using it and think you almost certainly should be too.

But it's important to separate the fact from the fiction, so here we aim to present the cold hard facts about using social media and share our insight on how you can get the most from it. So whether you're already using social media and are looking for some tips and hints to yielding better results or are so blinded by the social media superlatives emanating from every media organisation's backside you don't actually know where to start - here's what you need to know:

What's 'social media'?

Skip this if you're happy you know. Here's a two-second intro if you don't.

Social media is simply people sharing information online - ideas, news, photos, video - anything. It's chat. Never forget this. It's a casual exchange of information before it's anything else - and, most definitely, that includes marketing device.

As the famous @stephenfry superbly summed up Twitter in a way in which only he can: "There are no plans to change the name to 'serious debate' or 'marketing tool', it's called Twitter for a reason."

Back to basics: social media covers all the websites where this exchange of information takes place: Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo, LinkedIn, Flickr, Last.fm, Reddit, Second Life, and of course Smarta, to name but a few.

Social media is easy to use and is about you and me. And you and me can be anyone. Friend to friend, contact to contact, customer to supplier. It lets strangers from opposite sides of the world communicate, collaborate and share. Social media democratises information-sharing and gives millions of people access to huge data archives.

As such, it presents huge opportunities and challenges to companies wishing to communicate to customers using social media.

 

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