Business and Social Media – Part 2

This is the second article in a series of articles describing how social media can be used by businesses. The aim is to publish one article per week on this topic, the first being Friday, August 7. Each article will address a single topic, and build on material provided in the earlier articles. Through feedback provided on the articles, this may lead into another series after the conclusion of this series.

Note that any clients referred to in these articles are fictitious, unless I specifically indicate otherwise.

The Tools of Social Media

Social media requires, as a fundamental component, the ability for people to interact. Therefore, any tool claiming to be a part of the world of social media must include interactions between the provider and the audience. Each tool will therefore include one or more of the following components:

  1. Comments – the ability for the audience to publicly reply to some statement
  2. Forums – the ability for the audience to create a statement and then provide feedback
  3. Messaging – the ability for people to communicate in real time

Looking at some of the common tools of social media, it is easy to see how they are making use of at least one of these components.

Blogs

Blogs, such as this one, allow their audience to provide feedback on any given article. In this manner, the provider can post a message of arbitrary length, and the audience can then provide feedback.

The distribution of information is weighed strongly in favor of the provider, as they usually retain the ability to edit or select responses to be posted. (As an aside, I do not edit comments to this blog, and only refuse to post those comments which can clearly be seen to be spam.) The provider can control the topic of discussion to some extent, and can choose to incorporate the opinions of the audience in future posts.

Twitter

A form of micro-blogging in which each post is limited to 140 character, Twitter allows its users to post short messages. Conversations can be held by tagging posts, or marking a post as a reply to another user (via the # and @ tags).

Facebook (and other social networking sites)

A page can be created on a social networking site, providing an online location for people with a common interest to congregate. Interactions are usually via a message board, although private messaging is usually available as well. In the example of Facebook, targeted conversations can be created as well using forums.

What’s Next

In the next article, I will be providing an explanation of how the sample client, Jane, can make use of each of these tools to promote her business, and what some of the other tools she may want to make use of to facilitate her use of these forms of social media.