One aspect of Internet marketing many small business owners don’t understand too well and that benefit them tremendously with little cost or effort is social media. This requires a definition. Here’s a good definition of social media from Wikipedia:
Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers.
Translated, this means anyone can be a content publisher or provider. Anyone means you. Where Gutenberg’s press brought mass communication to the masses, the Internet has made everyone a mass communicator. Wikipedia’s definition of social media goes on to explain the specific types of social media available:
- Forums and message boards
- Wikis (like Wikipedia)
Specific examples of social media include MySpace for networking, Flickr for photo sharing, YouTube for video sharing, Wikipedia for information sharing, and del.icio.us for social bookmarking. These are by no means the only examples.
The key to making social media work for you is to share information and resources that are helpful or provide a benefit to others. When others see that you are willing to share willingly and with no expectations then they are more willing to seek you out when they know you have what they need. Social media is good for business. Think of it as one big social club where you can mill around, meet people, make friends, and draw connections between the those who can benefit you and those you can benefit. That old advice your mother gave you in high school – “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; you never know what might happen” – is just as valid online and social media is the best form of “out there” there is.