The core purpose of Social Media

Earlier this week my company hosted a Social Media event. The main attraction was Mitch Joel and while he dazzled us all with his insights me and my co-worker Ron de Giusti showed a few simple demos on how different social media tools can be used by an organization. Anyhow, working through the demos and listening to Mitch got me thinking of what the core purpose of social media is and came to the conclusion that it is about conversations.

All social media tools facilitates conversations. When people talk about social media they most often are talking about conversations between a company and its customers but there are a lot of other important conversations. You can have conversations with your partners, suppliers or with external organizations such as government agencies or NGOs. You can also have conversations within your organization. This can be between management and employees or between peers. We have always had conversations but social media tools now allow us to have conversations with anyone with very little effort. We can also store these conversations and search them much more easily and cheaply than we could before.

Each type of conversation may require a different type of tool but in the end, it is all about facilitating conversations

When people hear the term social media they usually think of Facebook and Twitter but there are a lot of other tools, e.g. wikis and blogs and as mentioned above social media is a lot more than marketing your products to customers. If you are new to social media, forget the hype and start by looking at your corporate strategy and find an area where you feel you would benefit from better conversations. Then, figure out what you want to get out of these conversations, e.g who you are trying to reach, what do you want from these people and how will you measure that you got it. Once this is done you are ready to start looking at different tools and ways to achieve this. Remember that implementing the tools is the easy part, getting people to use them is the hard part.

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