What Is Social Media?

what is social media?

Before you dive into a subject, learning the complex strategies, it’s always best to start with the basics; gain a foundation of the fundamentals before you venture into the complexities.

Even the football coaching legend Vince Lombardi, believed this to be true. Season after season he would take the first meeting with his players (no matter how experienced) and start with the basics. He would start his first talk (football in hand) saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Consider this our first talk.

Just FYI, this is part of my How To: Social Media series.

Before we talk about what social media is, I want to first tell you what social media is not. If you go into anything with the wrong outlook, you will not create a proper outcome. So here are 3 things social media is not:

1. Social Media is not an opportunity to SPAM

If you plan on just signing up and blasting your personal marketing agenda into the social sphere, do us a favor and save yourself some time – don’t sign up. You will end up spending a whole lot of time getting on people’s nerves and getting 0 results. There are enough spammers out there, don’t become one of them. If all you wish to do is exploit some free advertising for yourself, your business, or your brand, you’re missing it.

2. Social Media is not a FAD

I covered this in my first post of this series. Social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate with one another. It is a way of connecting and interacting in ways that were never possible before. It’s a shift that affects everything from the way we share photos with friends and family, to how products and services are delivered.

3. It’s not as complicated as you think

It boggles my mind every time somebody tells me, “I just don’t get it.” Listen, if you’re smart enough to sign up for a Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail account, you get it. Some platforms are more complex than others, but trust me – they are all pretty much based around the same principle, communication. It only looks intimidating because it’s new to you.

Got it? Good. Now let’s talk about what Social Media is:

According to Wikipedia: “Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”

I love that definition, but lets break it down a little bit.

Social Media is about connecting

From the revolution of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and the like came a way of connecting and reconnecting with family, friends, classmates, and co-workers. We are able to keep up with family across the country or across the world. We are able to find classmates who have long moved away. We can quickly see photos, share videos and have conversation with people all in a few clicks of a mouse.

Social Media is about Engagement

Not “let’s get married” engagement (although if you’re looking for a cool story about that, you can see my proposal story (here). It’s about starting and participating in conversations. It’s about interacting with people you care about, brands that you love, or topics that interest you. It’s about interacting and being (wait for it…) social. So instead of being a bystander and watching what is going on in the world, be an active participant in the conversations taking place. An easy way to practice this – write your thoughts in the comments section below!

Social Media is about GROWTH

Like my friend Ben Kolarcik said, social media is a “global unfiltered information center that brings us closer to people and events…” We can leverage this social medium to learn from one another, encourage one another, and more importantly grow from one another (which is different from learning). If used in the right way, social media can be a powerful force that propels our society to a level of interconnectivity that can be used for all kinds of good. There are already numerous causes out there using social media for good.

This is where the voice of Uncle Ben comes in…

With great power comes great responsibility.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” -Uncle Ben

It is true that the power of social media can also be used for bad. However if you start with the right outlook, and the proper mindset, with pure intentions and a heart for adding value to the social collective, then I believe we can make a positive change. I believe if we take the time to understand how to use this powerful tool of social media, we can do a whole lot of good.

What are your thoughts? Was this helpful to you? Is there anything I’ve missed?