What is Social Media?

Social media presents an enormous challenge for firms, as many established management methods are ill-suited to deal with customers who no longer want to be talked at but who want firms to listen, appropriately engage, and respond.

Increasingly, the term ‘social business’ is being used. This reflects that social media is not just a marketing discipline, but that it has multiple touch-points in an organisation such as customer service, sales, human resource management and R&D. Social business is where social media has broken down silos and barriers that enable employees to have a genuinely more open and collaborative relationship with the outside world.

Social media take on many different forms, including magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. By applying a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein created a classification scheme for different social media types in their Business Horizons article published in 2010.

According to Kaplan and Haenlein there are six different types of social media: collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter), content communities (e.g. Youtube), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.

According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, one of the key components in successful social media marketing implementation is building “social authority”. Social authority is developed when an individual or organization establishes themselves as an “expert” in their given field or area, thereby becoming an influencer in that field or area.

It is through this process of “building social authority” that social media becomes effective. That is why one of the foundational concepts in social media has become that you cannot completely control your message through social media but rather you can simply begin to participate in the “conversation” expecting that you can achieve a significant influence in that conversation.

However, this conversation participation must be cleverly executed because while people are resistant to marketing in general, they are even more resistant to direct or overt marketing through social media platforms. This may seem counter-intuitive but is the main reason building social authority with credibility is so important.

If your business is looking to set up an in house social media orientated team we can help you identify the marketing talent you need to deliver success. Give us a call on +44 121 702 1481 to find out more or email Gavin Chase, Social Media Headhunter  at gavin.chase@cnaint.com

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