The Business of Social Media

I recently gave a talk to the Arizona Retailers Association in November with a focus on concepts for using social media in business for a group that was a bit new to the medium and I’ve outlined the first set of some of the key points from that talk below.  The ARA includes a variety of representatives from small businesses to large, well-known companies and provided a great audience that brought some good questions.

We started with the most basic question: What is social media?

In short, it’s the variety of user-created content, which covers text, photos and video, that anyone can publish.  And that does mean ANYONE!  The barriers to publication are long gone and it’s only gotten easier to publish more content from almost anywhere.

If you have an online connection, you’re connected.  Whether it’s your YouTube video channel, photos on Flickr or short text posts on Twitter — or all three right here on Tumblr.

So, if that’s the what, what about the why?

If you go back to the definition, social media, which some will argue is just ‘media,’ is essentially a way to communicate and share.  That communication might be bi-directional or focused in one direction, driven by context.

Depending on your goals, whch are normally focused on personal, you’ll have a variety of reasons.  Follow the thought leaders in your industry, get in tune with your customers or find channels for targeted advertising.  There are ways to expand your brand, test messages or get involved.

The important part is to define your goals.  The variety of social media platforms, and supporting applications like Hootsuite, provide tools that should complement each other and your existing communications.  However, if you don’t define your goals, you won’t be able to measure for success and adjust as a you learn from your interactions.

I’ll stop here, but this is just the start on a topic that’s nearly endless.  Stay tuned over the coming days for more material from our November talk, which I’ll expand on further.

In the meantime, dive in.  There’s no time like the present.

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