When I gave this presentation to members of CPRS Vancouver last May, now summarized in this series of précis posts, I asserted:
- PR folks can’t rely on traditional media as their sole “channel” for distributing messages
- Social media is an umbrella term for a wide variety of collaborative web-based software tools that encourage sharing and conversation
- It is an act of self-preservation to teach yourself about social media now before it becomes mainstream, dip your toes in NOW!
This post, the last in this series, deals with items three and four, social media definitions, tools, and practical next steps.
Social media – definitions
It seems the lexicon of social media is as unnecessarily complex as the plethora of tools available. No wonder many people don’t know what it is, where to start, and are generally dazed and confused about the whole mess. Fret not, think of Blinking12.ca as your social media Valium™ – just as addictive but no side effects!
I like Joe Thornley’s stab at a plain-English definition of social media (excerpted here):
“Social media are online communications in which individuals shift fluidly and flexibly between the role of audience and author. To do this, they use social software that enables anyone without knowledge of coding, to post, comment on, share or mash up content and to form communities around shared interests.”
Joe, a Canadian social media luminary, and CEO of prominent agency Thornley Fallis, had the same reaction to the Wikipedia definition of social media as I did; ugh, what tortured techno-babble!
I think my language is similar in spirit to Joe’s:
Social media is an umbrella term for a wide variety of collaborative web-based software tools that encourage sharing and conversation
Many attempts at definition also talk about the “Three Cs” of social media, which of course vary by author and no one can agree upon. My favorite decryption of the Three Cs is:
But other “Cs” include conversation, consistency, commerce, communication, and context. One overachiever even took it to seven Cs, which, surprisingly, I quite liked in spite of the increasingly unwieldy mnemonic.
Social media – the tools
Kalan on Human Nature
Quote from Quotations Book
With the plethora of social media tools that exists, there should be no need to become a one-trick pony, pounding away on one corner of the social media universe. Having said that, the options, or toolkit, is usually presented as a list of gobbledy-gook new-age Internet brand names that are incomprehensible, like this:
A list of nonsense names does no beginner any good, as many (most) of these brands have no brand-equity (yet). With obvious exceptions like Facebook or YouTube, who among us would have a clue what is ning?
I prefer a presentation of social media tools not by name, but by function. If you ask me “Would you like to share photos?”, this is something I can grasp immediately.
While Wikipedia’s definition of social media stinks, their list of software by function is pretty good.
I’m a visual learner, so I really like this org chart (even if it is slightly dated) by LGNewMedia (click to enlarge):
Social media – first/next steps
From the org chart above, or from the aforementioned Wikipedia list, I suggest you take any or all of these steps to get started in social media (note: I’ll blog in detail about each in upcoming posts):
- Sign up for Google reader, find one blog you like, and subscribe to that blog’s RSS feed, then share a few posts
- Sign up for a social network to connect/reconnect with your network of friends, family, colleagues and former co-workers. Either Facebook or LinkedIn will do just fine
- Share some photos, professional or personal, either on Facebook, or sign up for Flickr
- Start listening to a podcast, but go easy and just listen on your computer, no need for an iPod to get started
- Watch and share a few YouTube videos, pick something you’re deeply interested in, from comedy to documentaries to tutorials or whatever you fancy to make the experience “stick”
That’s probably enough to keep you out of mischief for now. Upcoming posts will cover the above “first steps” in detail and I’ll share the “best of the best” in social media tutorials.
This concludes the Social Media Speed Dating four part series. My thanks to CPRS Vancouver for giving me the chance to speak and the inspiration to launch this blog.