Because of its elusiveness, you will find many definitions of social media out there. The best way to understand it is to think of it as a concept. The concept of social media is easy: it is the idea of a dynamic interaction taking place. Passive viewing of information is not the name of the game anymore, but an active two-way communication flow instead. This type of interaction can take place between absolutely anyone, and in a business context, this means that it takes place between businesses and consumers, between consumers themselves and amongst businesses as well.
Now the tricky part is that the channels through which this dynamic, two-sided interaction takes place are plenty. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Flickr, Zoho, Epinions, oDesk and many, many more are all part of this phenomenon. Each application is one face of social media, offering something different from the others. Twitter, for instance, allows you to give and take directly with your customers, eliminating all hierarchy that once ruled between a business and its consumers. Flickr, on the other hand, allows you share pictures and videos with employees or customers and can generate traffic to your website as a result.
What’s more though is that each application is a world of opportunities by itself, which means the realm for business possibilities is enlarged the deeper you invest in social media. Facebook alone is an evolving planet of promoting tools, and keeping up with it is the key to success in this internet revolution. Just to give a few examples, Facebook allows you to build a fan page where a community supporting your product can be developed and nurtured, but also allows you to create regular Facebook Events whenever you want to promote new products or special offers, or again makes it possible for you to generate polls so that you understand what your consumers would like to see in your next product.
Now just imagine what all these opportunities could do for your business. On one side of the coin, by using various social media tools, you can instantly access the biggest marketplace on earth, extending beyond space and time, to reach people you would have never even dreamt of reaching. And by increasing your market visibility and adopting an effective social media strategy, you will generate increasingly more leads both in quantity and quality.
On the other side of the coin, social media gives amazing cost-effective business solutions. Finding people to ‘do the job’, for instance, has now transcended space and time: with applications such as Elance or Fiverr, you can instantly browse huge communities of freelancers with a plethora of different skills to find the right candidate. If your budget is restricted, platforms like Fiverr, as the name implies, means you will only have to pay 5 dollars for a job. Depending on whether you need it fast and cheap or more expensive and professional, platforms with all kinds of resources are out there.
Working with colleagues beyond geographical limits has also been made very easy. Applications like Skype or GoToMeeting allow the set up of an online conferencing room to work on a project. With DropBox, you can access or share documents with colleagues from anywhere via Internet. Take this further and use DropBox on your Ipad whenever you attend trade shows so you can show all resources you need directly to your clients, and take information from there directly on the spot.
In regards to network-building and finding prospects, social media is the place to be. Imagine the breadth of opportunities with LinkedIn: a community of professionals in which you can nurture and maintain your own network of connections, and where your connections can link you to their own connections, and again these to their connections – allowing you to become at the center of a web of professionals and a realm of opportunities to get in touch or find new business opportunities to take part in. You can even ask the community business-related questions for free and receive answers for free through the LinkedIn Answers features. Or, use LinkedIn to find prospects that fit your requirements and then make a quick FBI-styled profile check of these on Pipl.com or KGBpeople to find out more about their interests before you actually meet them. This way you prepare better, perform better and get better results.
The avenues for growth with social media are really endless and time has showed that they are only increasing. Needless to say, a proper ‘social media kit’ needs to be incorporated into your business strategy in order to succeed in this revolution and turn the wheels of your business faster and stronger.