Girl Listening to Social MediaI was recently a guest speaker on Social Media at a Santa Fe Springs chamber of commerce seminar, and I thought it would be a great time to discuss this increasingly popular medium and why you need it. Social media is exactly what it sounds like.  It is simply communication, within an online social environment. When it comes to social media, there are no shortages of websites that are dedicated to socializing such as Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook ,Wikipedia and YouTube being most popular. These social media sites can bring people together for common interests; they can educate people by providing valuable content such as articles, videos, and slide-show presentations or even creating a buzz just by showing wacky videos and pictures from time to time.

Social media sites allow users to interact with the website. For example, it may allow you to include your comments and suggestions, have you rate an article that has been submitted or by allowing you to suggest videos that you would like based on your previous selections. Think of sites like Netflix and Blockbuster Online and it should all start to make sense. This works best for people who want to let others know what they think and feel as opposed to just watching a movie or listening to the radio and not interacting at all. After all it’s called “social media”.

There are many sites that fit under the social media umbrella. They each may focus on a different type of niche, but there are a couple of things that they do share. Each site has the ability to have you interact with it and you can also interact with others that use the site as well. There are sites that focus on news like Propeller and bookmarking sites like Simpy that focus on sites that have been bookmarked by others. FaceBook is a networking site where you can find friends and chat, YouTube allows users to share and watch videos and wikis, like Wikipedia, are websites that allow you to read, add and edit articles on various subjects.

Being a part of the social media world mean can mean more opportunities for your business. You can easily build relationships and start to increase your network connections. Social sites give you plenty of ways to interact with old friends and meet new ones. In addition, you can build new relationships by creating an account to sites like Facebook and Linkedin and network with different types of people from basically anywhere on the planet. The internet is the key to finding people to work with who enjoy your field. Between email, friend requests, updates, bulletins and instant messaging you will always have lots of opportunities to expose your business or brand.

Some people might be thinking that social media is just not for them or they are afraid of it. There is nothing to be afraid of as it is just about building relationships, same as offline. Remember, everyone can benefit from social media regardless of your business. Also, social media sites typically have no age limit to them and they really can help you to strengthen and further your career and/or expand our business. Think of it as staying in contact with old friends and co-workers over time that could one day help you out with a job offer or other relevant information. In addition, you can have your own page where someone can find you after losing touch. You can apply for jobs, promote your own business or just communicate with others that share your same interests and are hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

The best sites for social networking are easy to find and have a simple account set up. They are generally free to use and open to anyone with computer access and a current email account. Once you sign up, you can search for friends, customize your webpage’s layout, pick music, videos, and even tweet on Twitter with good topical information. While the younger generation seem to have a natural knack for this type of thing. It really is not hard to do and adults can benefit from putting their name out there as they try to find a new job or keep in touch with family members. These sites are password protected and you can keep people out by choosing to have a private page as opposed to a public one.

For some, news sites are better than reading a newspaper. Sure a newspaper can be taken on the go, but with Yahoo news or MSN a person can easily pull up the latest and most current information right on their cell phone or ipad. Personally, I get all my news online and have not picked up a newspaper in over 12 years. There are others news sites like Digg where articles are written by everyday people and rated on by the community. This gets everyone involved and keeps the general public informed.

Have you ever read a good book and one passage was just so amazing that you bookmarked it? You just had to show everyone that great quote or line. This also works for the internet age with social media sites. Social bookmarking is a social media site that bookmarks sites that you like and saves them for others to see. This way when an internet user goes searching on the world wide web they can search through bookmarked sites that they are interested in and even tag some of their very own.

The use of the social media site Flickr is one that teenage kids, young adults and even the parents can enjoy. This is a site where anyone can join and look at share videos plus pictures. Users can also comment on submissions added to the site. This is great for when babies are born, a child takes a first step and older ones graduate from high school. Families can stay connected and they do not have to even live in the same city, state or country. Moreover, who doesn’t like to watch a funny video from time to time? For those who need information and need it quickly sites like Wikipedia are great for showcasing articles with great amounts of detail. They can also be added to and edited. With all of these sites, it is no wonder why the Internet and social media have become so popular. Social media is here to stay and you should really consider getting involved before you get left behind.