What is Social Media and Why Should I use it

by Eric Tsai

How can social networking help my business?  Is it a complete waste of my time or can it really do something for me?  Those are the same questions I asked only a few months ago.

Instead of following the hype, I signed up for some of the most popular social media tools and have since become a believer.

socialnetwork02Bottom line: I wish I had started using it earlier!

If you’re using social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter you should already know the value they bring to the table.  If you’re still struggling to understand and how to best utilize them, keep reading.

What is Social Media?

In plain simple words, social media is a platform allowing people to interact and share information with each other online.  It encourages dialogues (many to many) instead of monologues (one to many) by facilitating the discovery, participation and sharing of content.

You can become your own broadcasting station distributing information in the form of audio, video or written content.  Instead of just going to a website and read a piece of content, you can now comment on it, redistribute it, or share it with other people.

Why Should I Use Social Media?

Social media allows people to connect online to form relationships for personal and business reasons.  It’s often refer to as social networking.  Business can engage their customers faster and individuals can reach other individuals easier.

Why Businesses use social media

  • Business Branding – Businesses are using social media to build trust and gain creditability for their brand via interactions with their customers.  It’s a new tool for people to learn about the company and social media profile is the new “brochure” to find in-depth information about what the company is all about.
  • Networking – Social media creates new business opportunities and leverages word-of-mouth marketing to build a communication channel that can help generate sales leads.  Social media enables businesses to connect to millions of people they otherwise wouldn’t have.  It’s a new way to distribute information between businesses and people.
  • Customer Feedback – Companies are responding to customer questions directly via social media which can improve customer satisfactions and customer retention.  Most social media sites have search function, so companies can search and see what people are saying about their products and services.  It creates awareness and helps to improve the overall experience with the brand which can lead to direct sales.

Why individuals use social media

  • Personal Branding – Similar to a business you can leverage interaction between you and other individuals to strengthen your personal brand.  In addition, you can influence them by becoming their fan, keeping them informed on what’s going on, or endorsing them through commentaries. Many individuals today are web celebrities because they constantly publish their expertise on a specific topic and became known for it and people perceived them as experts. Even mainstream high profile individuals are using social media to build a solid online fan base to take their personal brand further.
  • Personal Networking – You can use social media to network with others to find opportunities for jobs,  joint venture projects, market your personal brand, as well as get the latest news on the topics of your interest.  It’s a fantastic way to start conversations, learn from notable peers by participating, and get free advice.  It’s also easy to reach someone and find answers or resources you need.

So now you understand why businesses and individuals use social media, next I will show you how to use them to benefit your business or personal brand.