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?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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