The definition of social media is so broad that people can hardly understand what it covers. The easiest way to describe this term is to split its meaning into two parts:
“Social” – refers to various interactions among people presuming sharing and consuming of information between them
“Media”– refers to communication tools (Internet, magazines, newspapers, TV, etc.) applied in interactions among people
Using these two terms we can define social media as an online communication tool used for interactions between people involving sharing and consuming of information.
To make this explanation more specific we have to determine the main goals and features of social media.
What Is Social Media Used For and Its Main Features
Defining social media we have to understand its functions and key characteristics. A good start is to determine what refers to social media and what does not. For example, traditional media like TV or newspapers should not be considered as social media. The reason for that is fairly simple – they do not presume interaction between people. The information delivers one way and no feedback comes back from the target audience. On the contrary, blogs are part of social media as they serve as a communication hub between people. They have a comments section and certain network where blog members interact.
Social media is different from social networking because the meanings of media and networking are not the same. The media deals with shared information, whereas networking, refers to interaction with people in different forms including social media. These two forms of interaction overlap, but do not coincide.
If you have a question whether a certain site, app or network can be defined as social media, investigate how these features represent on it:
- Personal accounts and pages – social media means easy communication and collaboration. To achieve this, people set up individual accounts for interaction with other people and profile pages to develop their own brands
- Easy navigation and connectivity – users have to easily get in touch with each other. The site or app has to allow the following, subscription, hashtags, group building and other features simplifying user interaction
- Profiles customization – social media allows people to organize their profiles in the way they like, including certain features and managing the information they are interested in
- Notification and news feed – social media has to keep the user updated about the main changes in his accounts and about the life of other people with whom he interacts. People have to receive various forms of content relevant for their social needs and stimulating them to discuss it with other users through shares and comments
- Privacy and security – people prefer to protect their personal information from others and social media has to provide the desired security level to guarantee the users trust.
Main Keys to Social Media Success
While using social media for business needs, you have to provide value to your target customers, do this regularly following a certain schedule and interact on an ongoing basis. You have to become really social.
Frequently businesses fail to provide customers with content they want. Investigate your target audience, determine the goals of your interaction and bring value to your customers. You have to analyze the competitors, their social media strategies and content types to develop your own approach.
Most small enterprises fail to perform consistently on social media. It is not enough to make one post and disappear for a month. You have to prepare the posting schedule and stick to it. Your audience has to become accustomed to communication with your brand. Use smart posting tools to automate your social media publishing.
Finally, do not forget to be really social. Your business operates in social media to bring value to your customers and communicate with them. When people ask you questions answer immediately. It is crucial to build long-term effective collaboration with customers and raise their trust. Let them know that you really care about them and try to help in any situation. Engage with customers and ask their opinion on different issues related to your brand. Such an approach stimulates interaction and brings you loyal clients in the future.