What is Social Media?

What is social media? Wikipedia defines social media as media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. Businesses also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media utilization is believed to be a driving force in defining the current time period as the Attention Age. A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.

Some social media web sites are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter just to name a few. As social media becomes a more integral part of people’s lives, its reach and impact grow. Here are some of the recent developments that businesses should know and should take advantage.

One of the most popular social media sites is Facebook. Recently Facebook launched a new feature called Facebook Places which allows Facebook members tell each other where they are, what they are doing and even who they are with. This has a great impact for local merchants and small businesses because they are more likely to be included in the conversation among Facebook users. Facebook also creates a Local Business page for each of the Places that are listed in Facebook Places. When someone “checks in” to your business, it will include a link to the Facebook page for your business in the message that gets sent out to their friends.

So how do you participate? Facebook lets merchants “claim” their pages. If you already have a Facebook page for your business, it will merge with your new Places page. When you claim your page, you will also be able to manage your Place’s information such as address, contact information, business hours, business profiles, pictures, etc. You could also get aggregate information about how your page is used.

The growth of social media is growing at a very fast pace. As a retail merchant, you may want to consider taking advantage of this trend to increase your business’ exposure.