So, it really isn’t just Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter?

One of the primary reasons for my journey into social media is my incomplete knowledge of what really makes up social media.

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

I would like to the think that the majority of the population shares my same level of knowledge when it comes to social media, but I would also believe that I am one of the few remaining social media novices in the world.

It’s similar to my knowledge of music. I have an eclectic mix that ranges from hip hop/rap (T.I., Jay-Z, Eminem), rock (3 Doors Down, Fall Out Boy), country (Taylor Swift, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood) and many other crossover bands/artists in between.

Regardless, I know enough to be somewhat useful. 

Put it this way, I know enough about the field to get you started, but no way near enough to actually make it useful for you.

That’s about to change… sort of.

We all know that social media has been the “buzz” over the last few years. And we know that sites like Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the leaders in social media.

They’re similar to McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King of the fast food industry; or Verizon, AT&T and Sprint of the mobile phone industry. Everyone knows the market leaders, but for every leader there are two or three lesser-knowns that are just as good/competitive/useful.

With that in mind, I have tried to find out what other tools/application within social media are out there by researching what people talk about the most and doing what I do best — ask questions.

A quick Google search for social media tools results in more than 129 million items in 0.16 seconds. That’s a lot.

But over the past few days, I’ve come across a number of sites/applications that seem to be among the top used tools within the industry. Some of them I knew about… others not so much.

So here’s my list of networks/items/tools/applications in no particular order (I won’t mention the four above since everyone knows what they are) and short snippets of what they are:

  1. Google Buzz – The newest social media app debuted just this week. From the source: “It’s a new way to share updates, photos, videos and more, and start conversations about things you find interesting… It goes beyond status updates.”
  2. Tumblr – Seems to be another way to share information… within a blog on their servers. Focus seems to be on the concept of “reblogging”. From the source: “The same way YouTube embeds make it easy for a video to become a viral hit, the “reblog” button on all Tumblr posts allows a meme to spread rapidly across thousands of blogs with just a click.”
  3. Foursquare – I didn’t understand the game as a child, nor do I understand this game as an adult. However, people seem to like it.
  4. Digg – Another sharing site, but relies mostly on votes by users to determine what is the top stuff.
  5. Delicious – The social bookmarking site. Basically allows you to bookmark things you like and access them from anywhere.
  6. Technorati – A search engine that searches blogs for information on topics of your interest.
  7. Flickr – One of the top social content sites, the photo version of Youtube. See also: Google’s Picasa.

I am 100% confident that these are not the only tools available for social media usage. At the very least, these are the ones I see come up most often in conversations among people who I follow and connect with.

What tools not mentioned above do you find interesting or useful?

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Week 1 – Just what is Social Media

As I stated previously, my primary purpose of writing this blog is to learn more about this thing we call “social media”.

Yes, I know that this should be common sense… after all, I do have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course, a blog. However, there has to be so much more to actually utilizing social media and its tributary – social networking.

When it comes to things that I do not know much about (pause for your laughter), I am an answer seeker. I ask questions. I search the Internet. I read, read and read some more. This is no exception.

One of my first forays into truly understanding this thing we call social media was to contact my former colleague (in another profession for both of us) Jason Falls. He’s quite possibly the most knowledgeable guy I know when it comes to social media, its uses and benefits. He’s crafted a career out of being a social media strategist and runs Social Media Explorer

Falls truly grasps this concept of social media and networking. Case in point, when I first joined Twitter many moons ago, @JasonFalls was one of the first friends that I “followed”. His first post to me included a call to action to his followers to follow me for insights on sports pr and sports in general. I immediately gained a few followers from his sphere of influence, two of which I still regularly read – @kevinpalmer and @Miss_Ink – both of whom I consider to be social media experts. And just recently, when I began to follow leadership personalities on Twitter, I came across @MichaelHyatt. And while I followed him and read his blog because of his thoughts on leadership (as CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing), it was his take on social media that really struck me.

While all of that may seem long winded (yes, I am an academic after all), it is generally good to ask people that you know.

Kevin Palmer, who also works as a social media strategist and runs the blog Social Media Answers, graciously sent me his “technical” definition for social media:

Social media is the evolution of online communication where users can now easily create their own content in multiple mediums, comment existing content, and consume content created by peers.

While that may serve as one of many definitions, the main emphasis that I get out of social media is how the conversation between people (and companies, customers, brands, etc.) has shifted in content, delivery, and most importantly immediacy.

That being said, here are some links to interesting reads on the topic of social media:

It’s all about the Baby Steps

We all do it.

We jump into something new and hit the ground running, yet we really have no idea about 1) where we are going, 2) what do we do when we get there and 3)why we’re actually doing what we are doing.

It happens with everything. And for me, it’s happening with social media.

Hence the reason for this blog, and by extension this opening post.

Here is what I do know about social media. Facebook is for showing off to “friends” who you haven’t seen since high school or grade school. Myspace is for showing your creative side and discovering/following an eclectic mix of music. Twitter is for talking about anything that you want, albeit in 140 characters or less.

However, Social Media is much, much more than that.

In fact, used in the right way, social media can help you stay connected to people and things that interest you, develop content that is unique to you as a person, and allows you to matter on a different scale than you did before.

So, over the course of the next few months, years, decades (maybe not so much decades), I’ll begin my training camp of sorts with entering into the Social Media realm. Knowing that there is so much more out there than the previously mentioned triumvirate of social media tools, it’s easy to understand why I feel like a rookie.

Hopefully, my journey would provide insights into how publics actually use social media on a variety of scales. And maybe I’ll learn a thing or two.

We shall see.