As promised, today we begin peeling back the layers of that mystical onion known as “Social Media,” “Web 2.0,” or, as I overhead one older gentleman call it as he stepped over me and my laptop on the floor at O’Hare, that “computer jibber-jabber crap.” Call it what you want, but it’s here to stay, so let’s begin!
Social Media according to Wikipedia: “Primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”
Technically that definition is correct, but what a sterile way to define a phenomenon that has completely changed the way our world communicates! Back when “Web 1.0” first began, companies put together a corporate Web site that was basically a glorified online brochure, threw their domain name on business cards and letterhead, learned how to add a signature file to outgoing emails, and called it good. If they really hung it out there and provided a feedback form, it was deemed brilliant, and the few who actually dared to venture into the possibility of a discourse by including a discussion board on their sites were considered visionary, crazy, or a little bit of both.
For many years that was the extent of the online “conversation,” which really wasn’t much of a conversation at all, but rather a one-sided “don’t speak until you are spoken to” kind of monologue. Of course (as I’ve discovered with my teenagers), there is a simple beauty to talking without expecting or wanting a reply (okay actually I just daydream about this scenario), but this one-dimensional approach left much to be desired. To really make a long story short…enter Social Media/Web 2.0.
First Social Media App Up: Twitter
Twitter is an increasingly popular “micro-blogging” platform that allows people to share thoughts, ideas, anything-140 characters at a time. If you’re wondering what 140 characters looks like, take another look at the previous sentence – exactly 140 characters (spaces count, too.) If you engage in “Twittering” you are known as a “Twitterer,” one in a group of Twittering “Tweeple,” and the 140-character messages that you post are called, “Tweets.” Okay, if this all sounds ridiculous and like a colossal waste of your valuable time thus far, I completely understand. When I first looked into the Twitter app, I thought it could only be, to put it very bluntly, a total time suck. And for some people it is. But used intelligently, Twitter can be an amazing source of relevant information, and an unparalleled networking and recruiting tool. Here’s how: