Unless you have been living on planet Thargg for the last few years you will have heard the term ‘Social Media”. It’s hard to escape from really,  but what is Social Media?

Wikipedia defines Social Media as: “computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.” And what is that in plain English?

In simple terms Social Media encompasses those computer programs where people hang out for fun to exchange pleasantries. This is a very simplisitc definition but should give you a feel for it all.

Computer programs have been developed that allow ordinary people, with no need for IT skills, to share things via the Internet. Things like funny stories, photos of cute cats and dogs, videos of stupid people and just about anything else they can get on their computers. People do this for fun in their free time – their ‘Social’ time.

The term Social Media covers platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Linked In and the myriad of other platforms that spring up each year. You will find many of your friends already hanging out on at least one of these platforms.

So what does Social Media mean to your business? In the same way that TV adverts invade peoples social time you can now be a part of their fun time too. As free ways of gaining attention for your business Social Media has become a home for many brands, both household names and small business owners. But don’t mistake this for an advertising platform – you have to be more subtle than that.

You are engaging with people in their free time. You need to consider the purpose of that engagement for you and for them. Provide fun, interesting and useful information and you will successfully be able to establish your company in your customer’s social world. Start selling to them and they will simply switch you off.

The idea is to raise brand awareness for your business. When your ‘fans’ need what you have to offer (or their friends need you) you will be in their mind in a meaningful and positive way. Hopefully they will think to buy from you before they think of your competitors!

Does Social Media still scare you? Our advice is to learn one platform at a time. Get comfortable with that before you learn the next one. The important thing here is to do something not nothing.

So what is Social Media? An important part of your Marketing Strategy!