Socialeyes: What is social media and why the # should I care?

From looking at user requests and various data I’ve gathered there’s a suprising number of practitioners out there who are not au fait with modern interactive technologies such as social media. In this series I hope to be able to break down a few of those barriers and show you a few ways in which you can utilise social media effectively in your business.

Love it or loath it websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler are becoming ever more popular methods of sharing news and reviews but are you looking at how to utilise them for your practise? Today I hope to provide a brief summary of what social media sites are and the concepts behind them.

Social media is a term used to encompass all forms of internet based communication which are interactive and personal, nearly always exclusively on web or mobile based platforms. It allows people to get in touch, stay in touch, share comments or user-created content and engage in a manner of social activities, be it in playing games or simply sharing virtual gifts.

There are a huge array of social media outlets and forms. The most common examples your likely to come across are discussion forums,  microblogging  sites (twitter), social bookmarking (twitter & facebook), social networking (facebook & myspace). Very often one site will provide many social media types within a consolidated foundation, which is why you'll see Facebook and Twitter appear often over the coming weeks.

Originally social media networking sites were only geared for individual user accounts and were designed to fill the gap between chat software like MSN Instant Messenger and websites such a MySpace. Many of them now offer dedicated business accounts and some social media outlets are offering combined accounts. This allows you to keep your business life separate from your personal life to the extent that you desire. One significant advantage of this is the hot topic of online privacy. 

Many people are, rightly or wrongly, concerned about there being too much of their personal data available online and so shy away from interacting with these technologies. I would suggest setting up a business account is the best way to counter this and keep a completely clean sheet for your personal life.

The advances of the internet and mobile phone technology now mean that communication through social media outlets is much more convenient and immediate than it ever was previously. In the coming years we will definitely see new versions rise and the current ones fall but the basic principle remains the same. Before next time try and familiarise yourself with the varieties of social media mentioned above, have a look through this blog, join in a discussion on a forum such as (or at least look at one) or even take the plunge and create a Facebook profile or Twitter account.

Next time on the Socialeyes column we’ll look at Twitter, the infamous # symbol in more detail and start to tap into a few of the ways you can use it to communicate with your client base.

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