Brief introduction to social media

I was asked, at short notice, to give a brief presentation on social media at a bootcamp for students who had business ideas that they wanted to develop. That was a bit of a challenge, as I could easily talk for hours on social media, but I only had half an hour!

There are plenty of good guides on social media and how to use it effectively. Its a very fast changing field, and I am definitely not an expert, so my talk was based on my own experience. 

This may seem like a random photo, but this little gathering was outside the window of the meeting room!

What is social media?

There are so many answers to that question, but I would say that it is an ever growing range of on-line platforms that allow people to communicate with each other.

Common Platforms and who uses them

It took about a minute for the students to come up with a much longer list!! However the ones listed below are the most commonly used.

The important thing to remember when using social media in a business context is that you should not just think about what you use, but think about where your customers are, and where they are going to be (its an always changing environment).

Take a look at what your competitors are doing, and what other companies in your sector (or who target similar markets) are doing.

You should develop a social media strategy and plan which platforms you will use, how you will use them and how frequently you will use them and post to them. When planning a specific campaign, its a good idea to draw up a grid listing platforms to be used, timeline and content to be written.

  • LinkedIn (business to business) – everyone should have a good, professional profile in LinkedIn- my intro to LinkedIn
  • Twitter (business (B2B, B2C), consumers, everyone, social) – if you are not using Twitter, you really should be. Don’t wait until you think you are ready to use if for your business, just jump in and start using it right now! Its very easy to create and run separate twitter accounts, so start with a personal one.  Twitter tipsmore tips
  • Facebook (business (B2C), consumers, everyone, social)
  • Pinterest (some business (B2C), social, everyone, focus on images)
  • Tumblr (social)
  • Blogs – WordPress, Blogger etc (widely used by business and for social use, emphasis on text)
  • Snapchat (teenagers, social)
  • Instagram (mostly social, images)
  • YouTube (everyone, video, owned by Google)
  • Flickr (images, owned by Yahoo)
  • Google+ (google fans, not nearly as big a platform as Facebook & Twitter, but  there are a lot of users)
  • Vimeo (everyone, academic, small business, charities)
  • User forums (special interest, eg health issues, cars, gaming, geek/tech stuff

What can you do with social media?

Network – customers, partners, employees, everyone!
Market research

General principles of using social media for business

  • Remember it’s two directional; its not about just pushing your message out, but about having a proper dialogue with customers.
  • Its usually very polite and courteous (trolls* excepted!!) *trolls are people who look for  arguments and try to upset people – don’t rise to the bait!
  • It’s 24/7
  • People expect a very rapid response
  • Bad news can travel very fast
  • Openness, sharing, collaboration are key
  • Hard to keep things private, so might as well share on your terms
  • Opportunity to delight your customer, champions on your behalf
  • Be a human being, don’t hide behind the company
  • Sense of humour very subjective – use with extreme caution (be human, know your customer)
  • Know when to take a discussion offline (Re: trolls and handling bad news)


Things move very fast, and its very easy to find examples of good, bad and positively disastrous examples of social media use; just Google ‘social media disasters. Here’s a round-up from Mashable of their top 11 Social Media disasters of 2012

Found this great infographic on what content to use on each channel

Take a look at what is happening at Wimbledon just now (Jun 2013) how they are using SM, twitter camera behind the scenes. Fatbuzz has written a great blog about it.

Published by Fiona

Fiona was once a hands-on scientist and still has a curious mind. She combines strategic thinking with an entrepreneurial attitude and the ability to make great connections. She also takes photos.

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