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The PayPal Official Insider Guide to Selling with Social Media: Mapping the Social Media Landscape and Key Websites

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Before exploring how to capitalize on social media for your business, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the social media landscape.
This chapter is from the book

The social media landscape has grown far beyond sites like Facebook and MySpace. All sorts of social sites and mobile apps are available to enable communication through words, images, and videos. While nearly all social media outlets encourage connections through some kind of interaction, the content of that communication—the currency, if you will—can change, depending on what service you are using. Before exploring how to capitalize on social media for your business, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the social media landscape.

The key thing to do when looking around the social media landscape is to listen. Hear what people are taking about and what interests them. You may learn about something new before it becomes the next best thing since sliced bread.

Getting the Lay of the Land

What’s interesting about media is that it was always a part of our social lives. People talk, people listen...sounds pretty social to us. But until recently, all media was a one-way proposition. The ascension of sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr has brought us true social media: a huge, always-on conversation using text and multimedia that anyone can watch and join.

All of these social media sites, and others, are more than just fun ways to share your life with friends and family (though they’re good at that, too). Social media provides an incredible outlet for your business to reach your customers. Just as communication between a business and its customers used to be one-way and one-dimensional—you placed ads, you talked to customers individually—businesses now have the capability to connect to as many customers as they’d like, using tailor-made messaging that can reach their audience on personal computers and smartphones.

More importantly, the conversation is now two-way. You can talk to your customers, and they can talk to you. Sometimes that conversation isn’t always fun, but it’s an honest part of your business, and with the right tools and attention, even the most disgruntled customers can become allies if they know you’re listening.

Each social media site offers these conversations in its own way, using content as the currency of communications exchange. Many times that currency is the written word, but sometimes it’s video, music, or images.

In money, currencies all work the same: you give someone something with value to receive something back of equivalent value. So it is with social media: no matter what the currency of the content, the trading of knowledge and shared lives is really what’s going on. To use it best for your business, all you need to do is use the right currency.

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