With the development of social media, the way in which people communicate and share information has been changed tremendously. The term “social media” represents various web-based tools and technologies that support online communication and information sharing, including: blogs; microblogs, such as Twitter; wikis; podcasts; content-sharing services, such as Flickr, YouTube; social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn; social bookmarking, such as Delicious; and location based services, such as Foursquare.
These tools and services support social networking by turning communication into interactive dialogue. They help individuals and organizations to better understand, engage with and respond to people on the social web. As Shirley Ayres said in article How Social Media Helps Make Connections, social media is a fast moving and constantly evolving environment which presents both opportunities and challenges for professionals and businesses.
As for self-promotion and self-marketing, social media tools perform as an efficient channel to quickly spread one’s personal brand image and make it eligible for potential employers. With so many tools of different kinds and functions available, people now can create their professional brand dynamically using text, audios and videos.
As for business organizations, social media tools are not only used as a cost-effective method to implement promotional plans and advertising, they are also functional as a platform where businesses can get feedback directly from their users and consumers. Social media enables businesses to collect valuable marketing information which is crucial for their business strategic planning.
As for job recruiters, social media tools have replaced traditional resumes as a new way of discovering potential qualified employees. Audio and visual aids provide recruiters with a more comprehensive view of a candidate’s professional image than plain paper resumes; therefore, the employers improve efficiency in “finding the right person” for the job position.
Here are five most widely-used social media tools used by business professionals—
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social networking website for people in professional occupations. One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of professional relationship. It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one’s contact network. Users can upload their resume or design their own profile in order to showcase work and community experiences. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates.
SlideShare: SlideShare enables users to upload PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote or OpenOffice presentation files privately or publicly. The slides can then be viewed on the site itself, or embedded on other sites. Business professionals originally use the service to share slides among employees, but it has since expanded to also become a host of large number of slides for promotion and marketing.
Facebook: As a social networking service, Facebook has provided a number of tools that make it a powerful tool not just for individuals, but for businesses and brands as well. As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users. Users build their network by adding other users as friends, and exchange messages. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, which provides potential opportunities for career or for business.
Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. Registered users can post tweets through the website interface, SMS, or a range of apps for mobile devices. It has become one of the ten most visited websites on the Internet with over 500 million active users. Business professionals benefit from Twitter by taking the advantage of its rapidly-increasing worldwide popularity to develop their brand images.
YouTube: YouTube allows video uploading and public sharing among the social web. It is used by business professionals as a visual aid for self-promotion. It also benefits business organizations by providing a platform for a viral video marketing strategy which gives the company lots of exposure at relatively low cost.
Here are some useful links for you to learn more about this topic—
How to Boost Your Personal Brand With Social Media
10 of the Best Social Media Tools for Entrepreneurs
Guardian. How Social Media Helps Make Connections. 8 Dec 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-care-network/2012/mar/20/world-social-work-day-social-media
Wikipedia. Facebook. 8 Dec 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook