Chapter 1. What Is Social Media?

Social media is one of those phrases that many people think they should know because it combines two familiar words. You know what social means. After all, people are social beings, relying upon one's abilities to interact with and influence others in order to survive. As a kid, your mother may have told you to "go outside and be social." To be social is a desirable thing. The word connotes something good.

Now take the word media. In a traditional sense, media includes things such as newspapers, magazines, and television. You might think of the New York Times, BusinessWeek, or CNN, three media giants with a tremendous amount of influence in society. While the word media does conjure up images of news organizations, it also brings up impressions of how the news is delivered: via print, audio, video, and photographs. Each is an important medium used to engage an audience by telling a compelling story or sharing important news.

Since the focus of this book is business and not journalism, stop the train here for a moment, just long enough to point out that there has always been a powerful relationship between the traditional media and business. The media has always been particularly good at gathering people to read, watch, or listen to something of interest. Whether it is sports, finance, fashion, or international politics, traditional media has something to offer you. Enter the people who advertise their products and services via commercials and print ...

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