I went looking online for a short, easy to understand definition and found this analogy:
Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, however, you have very a limited ability to share your thoughts on the matter.
Social media, on the other hand, is an active two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate and respond.
As the internet develops and evolves, the various Social Media websites are also growing and changing. Several years ago, MySpace was the place to be but it is now, generally, considered to be on the wane. Likewise, on MySpace, 33% of its users are aged 17 or less.
Ravalry is a relatively new, large community based around knitting with over 1,200,000 registered users. As you would expect, its membership is primarily female and the average member age is not available.
Facebook provides this information about its users:
- More than 500 million active users (I recently saw the number 600 million, but it hasn't been changed yet, on the Facebook site)
- 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
- Average user has 130 friends
- People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
As you can see, each Social Media site appeals to and has a different user base than any other site.
One of the powerful considerations about using a Social Media web site is the fact that most of them provide a level playing field when it comes to small business owners vs the big boys. For instance, you can build a Facebook Fan page for your offline business and so can a major automobile manufacturer. Within those Facebook Fan pages, both you and the multi billion dollar car maker have the same tools and resources. On Twitter, as another example, both you and the big companies are limited to 140 characters per tweet. They can't buy more characters and blast you out of the competition.
When considering which Social Media site to use with Social Media Marketing, you should consider the site's membership but you should also evaluate its culture and how the members interact. It is important that any Social Media site have a population whose interests are in line with your goals and, facebook also, that it have a structure and pattern of interaction that is compatible with your objectives.
In addition, you must keep in mind that things change on the Internet, sometimes at breakneck speed. As an example, between March 2011 and May 2011, Facebook implemented some major changes which changed the whole landscape of using it for business. Suddenly, controlling the content on a business Fan Page and using product images to build a brand became game changers... for those who knew how to do it!