Social media describes a variety of Web-based platforms, applications and technologies that enable people to socially interact with one another via the Web.
Some examples of social media sites and applications include Facebook, Linked In, YouTube, Del.icio.us, Twitter, Digg, blogs and other sites that have content largely contributed based on user participation — that is, sites that organize and deliver user-generated content.
Webopedia.com is a great resource on navigating the social media maze. They list key terms to understand the tools you can utilize for business marketing and describe the different applications and their uses. They also give you the pros and cons of using social media as well as some basic guidelines to follow.
Small businesses are finding these technologies useful for promoting business at a minimal cost. In response to this need, Facebook has made it easier for any business to create a Facebook profile, or business page, which any Facebook user can become a "fan" of. You no longer have to be a Fortune 500 company to afford this. It's free!
If you decide to take the plunge into social media by joining the Facebook crowd, as some Tribute customers have, Hubspot, Inc. and Webopedia.com provide good articles on how to Create a Facebook Business Page.
And for those who already have a Facebook business page, The Advance Guard provides a handy down-loadable white paper on how companies can leverage recent changes to Facebook Pages to better socialize their presence and engage their Fans.
As for the future of social media, David Armano (part of the founding team at Dachis Group, an Austin based consultancy delivering social business design services) believes that in 2010, social media will get even more popular, more mobile, and more exclusive. Read his article on the Six Social Media Trends for 2010.