Remember the days when you had to pick up a piece of paper and a pen in order to write to someone? And then you would have to go through the process of putting the letter in an envelope, stamping it and taking it to a post office to send. All this, and the card you sent for Christmas would invariably arrive sometime around Easter…
But that was before the arrival of the internet. With the internet came e-mail, and then a bit later VoIP, Instant messaging and video calls. Now you can send a letter to someone halfway across the world, confident that it will arrive almost instantly Sherry Dyson. You can have telephone conversations online, and even video chats, so granny in South Africa can see her grandchildren in Australia and talk to them like they were in the same room.
This doesn’t even include social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, which allow people to communicate with a large number of friends at a time, as well as to post pictures and comments.
In the days before the internet, it we wanted to watch TV, we had to watch whatever was being shown by the networks. If you missed an episode, and weren’t able to record it, that was it unless you managed to see a rerun. Now, with the rise of the internet, you can not only download whatever episode of whatever series whenever you want, you can also download movies, music, games and more.
It used to be that to be discovered as a musician or actor, you had to go to auditions and be “discovered by agents and directors or music company executives. Today, all you need to do is post a video of yourself on YouTube or MySpace, like Justin Bieber or Lily Allen.
With the internet, you no longer have to wait for a friend to visit if you want to play multiplayer games. There are now numerous games that you can play online against people all over the world. There are even games like Second Life, where people are able to log on to a virtual world and interact with other people. They are able to buy property, create works of art and have relationships.
With the internet came a different form of news. You used to have to rely on the mainstream media for your daily dose of news. You know how it went, every night at 7 the kids would have to be dead quiet because dad had to watch the evening news, and the stories of butlers having to iron the morning newspapers for their wealthy masters. The news was basically fed to you, you weren’t able to go out and find different opinions.
Nowadays, you are able to go out and find the news. You can read an article on the gulf oil spill on the Time Magazine site, and then read one from a different point of view from CNN. The news is also no longer just being reported by journalists and mainstream media. There have been many times where the larger news companies have been scooped by smaller sites, or even blogs, as in the case of Michael Jackson’s death where TMZ.com was the first to report that he had been t
What is social media? According to Wikipedia, “At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one to many) into dialogues (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers.”
In other words, the evolution of the Internet has changed the way that people interact online and the way information is presented. For example, let’s look at the definition above from Wikipedia. At any moment, anyone across the planet can edit and add to this definition. Wikipedia is an excellent example of the changing nature of the web and proliferation of user-generated content.
So, why should you care about social media? According to a recent study by Nielson called Global Faces and Networked Places, social networking and blogging sites are now the fourth most popular sector on the Internet. They have even surpassed personal e-mail. It’s highly likely that your customers and prospects are already participating in social media, so why not get involved and open up the lines of communication?
There is no one perfect equation for social media, but this article features some basic information to get started. When you create your social media plan, remember to start simple. Instead of trying to participate in every online community, focus on just a few areas where your customers and prospects congregate. Feel free to experiment and see what works for your business.