Social Media 101 - by JoAnna Haugen
Ashton Kutcher has hopped on the social media wagon. So have Britney Spears, Neil Gaiman and Oprah.
Does that mean you should too?

"Social media" may be the buzzword of the day, but if recent statistics are any
indication, chances are it's here to stay. If you're curious about social media,
there's no time like the present to learn what it is, how it can help you and how
you can get started.

Defining Social Media

Social media is a term that encompasses online technology people use to
communicate with each other. This is done through videos, words, photographs,
audio, instant messaging and live-time chats. Reading and commenting on blogs,
participating in online forums, updating Facebook statuses and watching videos on YouTube are all forms
of social media interaction.

Social media allows for two-way communication whereas more traditional forms of media, such as
television, radio and newspapers, have historically only offered one-way communication.

So What's the Big Deal?

The aggressive growth of social media almost demands that everyone at least understands its impact, even
if they aren't users themselves.

Employers use social media to find potential employees. Companies use social media for dialogue and
instantaneous customer service. Universities use social media to allow professors and students to engage
in conversation beyond the classroom.

Simply put, social media plays a part in just about all aspects of society today.

How Social Media Can Help You

Are you looking for a job? Do you want to connect with someone who has driven a specific kind of car,
visited a certain destination or taken classes through a particular institution? Would you like to reconnect
with old friends? Are you interested in sharing videos or photographs with family members that live far

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it's probably time you explore the opportunities awaiting
you through social media. Due to the immediate nature of technology and its ability to deliver anything in the
world right into your home, social media makes it possible for you to meet and reconnect with people, learn
about and apply for jobs, refine or develop professional skills, find out about discounts and savings, and
market your talents and abilities to highly targeted audiences-all with an Internet connection and online

Getting Involved with Social Media

If you're ready to try your hand at social media, here are a few places to get started:

--- Facebook is an online forum where people interact with each other by providing short updates about
themselves. You can also upload photos and videos, provide background information about yourself, and
become a fan of your favorite brands, bands, celebrities and more. In return, people can comment on your
updates, videos and pictures.

Blogs abound in cyberspace and cover just about every topic
imaginable. Many blogs fit into a specific niche-ranging from fly
fishing and quilting to the latest films and technology-and are
composed of short, frequently updated posts about that topic.
This is a great place to meet people with your interests and stay
on top of industry trends. Become an active participant by leaving
comments on blog posts of interest. Once you find a blog that
intrigues you, check out its blogroll or related links to find other
related blogs.

--- LinkedIn is a professional social media site where you can build a portfolio of your job history and
accomplishments and connect with others you know in order to build further professional connections. The
site also has alumni, corporate and special interest groups you can join to learn about group-related news,
conferences, job opportunities and more.

--- Twitter is a micro-blogging social media site where people "tweet" in 140 characters or less. Some
people update their status by answering Twitter's question, "What are you doing?" Many others take
advantage of the site by following brands and people of interest, reading posted articles and blog posts,
participating in Twitter-only contests and promotions, and engaging in conversation with movers and
shakers across the world.

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