Gini Dietrich

Intro to Social Media: What Is It?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 28, 2009 | 


We’ve spent some time here in the past few weeks talking about how much time to spend on social media, how to build content, and how to drive traffic. But a lot of the questions I’m getting from clients and prospects are along the lines of “What is social media?” or “Isn’t social media just another time waster developed by the Web?”

Because of these questions, I’m taking a step back to explain social media.

Social media is NOT about Friendster, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Digg…or whatever is new right this second.

Social media is a shift in how we communicate. It’s a shift in how we share news. It’s a new way to discover, read, and share content. It’s how we develop and foster relationships, one-on-one, with people.

We use the available technologies to develop and foster those relationships. We use online social networks to discover, read, and share content, news, and information. So it doesn’t matter if Friendster is now defunct and that Twitter is eventually going to be a bunch of PR people talking to a bunch of PR people. It’s NOT about the technologies; it’s about relationships.

Think about this:

* Does your customer service department take incoming calls all day long?

* Do you have a sales team that makes cold calls?

* Do you spend quite a bit of time and money with clients – traveling to see them, buying extravagant dinners, playing golf?

* Do you have marketing, PR, and advertising programs?

* Do you have a formal (or informal, for that matter) way to communicate consistently with your employees and other stakeholders?

* Do you attend weekly or monthly networking events? Do you go to conferences and trade shows?

What if you could continue to do all of this, but much more efficiently…in terms of both time and money? Social media allows you to do this. It’s just another way of communicating. It’s not going to replace what you already have in place – it’s makes it all much more efficient.

Social media provides a way to attend a networking event every day. You’re meeting new people (prospects or talent), you’re developing relationships (clients), and you’re sharing information (thought leadership and expertise).  You don’t have to wait until an organized event happens. You can jump on your computer right now and attend an event. You don’t even have to brush your teeth, if you don’t want to because no one (but you) will know!

So my question to you is…how can you afford NOT to participate in social media?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Good blog on Social Media, how long will this last. What about PPL who don’t have a business? Some PPl just want to talk to someone on line. Is it just business?

  • No, it’s not just business. A lot of it is personal. For instance, I use it to keep up with my niece and nephews, who are spread across the country. And it’s a great way to make new friends. So it doesn’t have to just be all work and no play.

  • Yes yes yes! “Social media is NOT about Friendster, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Digg…or whatever is new right this second….”It’s how we develop and foster relationships, one-on-one, with people.”

    Couldn’t agree more, Gini. If not used right, sure it can be a time waster or even a fad. If used effectively, it’s so much more, as you mentioned above (SEO, Customer service tool, Networking tool, Personal branding tool, etc.)

    Great post! 5/5 stars!

  • Gini,

    On point as always. Though I’d change the question from “How can you afford not to participate in social media?” to “How can you afford not to actively and consciously participate?” My point is that everyone is particpating – whether they want to or not. As you’ve pointed out, social media is not about the tools – it’s about the conversation (just ask Domino’s). I tell people that the only thing worse some someone talking negatively about them is that they’re not talking about them. The reality is a giant conversation is taking place (whether businesses like it or not); and the question is are you going to be active in it, or just passive.

  • It’s about building credibilty in a meaningful way and allows clients, consumers, brands, agencies, friends and even celebrity worshipers to connect with whatever they are interested in on a more personal level. It’s a great post and really hits home for me because my mother of all people just joined Facebook and asked me to explain it to her.

    Nice work Gini.

  • Molli Megasko

    I love that you brought up those examples because the point is, even if you don’t want to participate, others are and they are talking about you! I love engaging, but I also love listening — sitting back and watching these conversations take place. I learn about my company, my clients, and my friends, it’s the most honest feedback you can receive.

  • Jim Holland

    Great post. I agree with your statement “that Social Media is a shift in the way to communicate.” As social media tools, methods and adoptions evolve, it will provide community, collaboration and content in ways that we personally haven’t thought of. For businesses, it’s not a new route to selling stuff, its a way of testing positioning, messages and extending awareness. For individuals, it may lead to collaborative innovation by building a community we have not envisioned.

  • Great article. You are right on point about it being more efficient. It is so much more effective too. You are in front of people instantly, and then others can share your information with their friends.

    It’s networking at light speed.

  • Hi Gini – Excellent article. I’m not in PR or Marketing (although I do hold a PR degree), but I am fascinated by social media and its potential. Engaging people and building relationships … that’s what it’s all about.

    I like Jason’s comment: “It’s networking at light speed.” 🙂

  • Such great comments from everyone!

    Social media is also not just advertising, marketing, PR, customer service, business development, or HR. It’s ALL of these…and then some!

  • JB

    Gini, after explaining what I can do for potential clients, I get similar responses…”What is a blog?” Really helpful to remember to start the conversation with what social media is and can do for the client.

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