Simple Answers to Six Basic Social Media Questions

Filed in Journalism 24 comments

NOTE: I am republishing this article for the benefit of the students in my online course: Social Media for Journalists AND my new entrepreneurial friends from BNI and Linked Local Marin.

Want to get started with social media but don’t know what questions to ask first. Check out this article for a great video intro and some brief answers.


Every new enterprise — ย whether it’s a new project, new class, new relationship, or a new business — begins with some degree of Confusion. The key to getting past the initial uncertainties is to (a) silence your “fear” [False Expectations Appearing Real], (b) focus on one objective, and (c) put in effort.

6 Basic Social Media questions . . . and their answers:

1. Where can and will social media take me?

Social media is a set of technologies, strategies, and tactics that will help build your business by increasing both your understanding of your customers/clients/community and their knowledge of how your products and services can help them.

2. What makes social media so important?

The world has changed. There is a New Normal and the old techniques of marketing and communication will no longer work in the same ways as they have in the past — because everyone can become a publisher and everyone can gather information on their own [without depending traditional media].

3. How much time do people need to spend online?

Among peoples’ greatest online fears is that they must be continually updating their statuses on dozens of social media platforms. Most social media consultants suggest that short periods of time, e.g. 15-30 minutes two or three times a day can accomplish a number of objectives for entrepreneurs as well as managers and executives in firms of all sizes — if you have a strategy set in place.

4. What is a blog?

The word “blog,” which is a silly-sounding word to many, is just a shortened term for a Web Log. Very simply, a blog is a website with recurring content. Bloggers can write whatever they want whenever they want. This is an example of everyone having the opportunity to become a publisher. Are all blogs “equal”? Of course not. Of the hundreds of thousands of blogs and bloggers, most might be termed “frivolous,” i.e. trivial, inconsistent, unresearched, etc. But the fact of the matter is that many bloggers who write about important and interesting topics in unique styles are fast becoming highly influential throughout the world.

5. How safe are social media sites for private, confidential information?

Not “safe” at all. The Best Practice is not to write anything on a social media platform that you wouldn’t want the world to read. There is a difference between publishing “personal” and “private” information. Personal information about yourself can be wonderful for building trusting relationships. Private information does not belong on the Global Whiteboard.

6. How many social media platforms do you really need to know and use?

Answers to this question vary depending on WHY an individual or a business communicates online. To effectively build an online presence as the Go-To source for information on a certain subject, these five venues offer great rewards: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging, and YouTube.

For more basic information on these platforms, check out the articles in these categories

Blogging Basics

Facebook Basics

LinkedIn Basics

Twitter Basics


Definitions of Web 2.0, Blogging, Microblogging, Reverse-Engineering, Future of Marketing

No Guarantees, but here’s how to go viral on video

Enhance your LinkedIn profile to increase find-ability

10 Social Media Newbie Mistakes

What to Tweet to stand out from the Masses

Please add more questions about social media and how it works in the comment section. You’ll get answers from me and other readers.

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   11 February 2011
Tags : , , ,
Feb 11, 2011
10:31 am

This is a very concise and clear intro to social media.

Author Feb 11, 2011
11:39 am

Ariella, your comment shows me how important it is for bloggers like me to re-publish posts that are “evergreen,” i.e., continually helpful [and not just a one-time relevance]. Any more questions?

Feb 11, 2011
4:28 pm
#3 Nikolas Zelinski :

I agreaa with Ariella. I am just starting to get the hang of this, very helpful.

Feb 12, 2011
1:54 pm


Great outline of what social media is about and which sites are typically key to growing our online presence. We appreciate the education and information you provide to your readers. Oh… and we love our blog and the time we spend on Facebook and Twitter.

~ Pat and Lorna

Author Feb 12, 2011
7:07 pm

All of this opportunity to share useful information reminds me how much FUN my work is . . . and a book I read long ago for a pre-college reading assignment. Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa was extremely inspirational to me, especially the central message that for the Samoans, Work was Play. That’s exactly how I feel. And now I hear over and over from many people that if you love what you do, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. Thanks for stopping in here.

Feb 15, 2011
10:05 am

Great information about social media, the importance of it and More!
Thanks for sharing!

Author Feb 15, 2011
5:31 pm

Maggie, thanks for dropping by. Was there anything “new” to you in these answers?

Feb 16, 2011
4:19 am
#8 Emma :

Hi Shari,

What a wonderful introduction to social media!

Unfortunately I couldn’t view the video because sony music has blocked it in my country!

I definitely think posts like these are worth re-posting ๐Ÿ™‚


Author Feb 16, 2011
8:39 am

Emma, I’m happy this helped, and I wish you could see the video; it is filled with facts to support the case that Social media is NOT a fad!

Feb 16, 2011
10:34 am

Great blog post, Shari. I sincerely believe that 10 years from now when we look back at the people and business that were able to build a successful online empire, the difference will be that the highly profitable businesses were able to capitalize on the use of social media. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Feb 16, 2011
8:44 pm

Hi Shari ~ I agree with with Pat & Lorna commented, that you gave an excellent outline of what Social Media is all about. I do also appreciate that you mentioned that it does not take a considerable amount of time each day to contribute and be a part of it all ~ yet that it is good to have some sort of strategy in place for yourself. Christine

Feb 17, 2011
7:41 pm
#12 Linnea :

Hi Shari,

I’m right there with Pat & Lorna and Christine. This is a great overview and illustrates the importance of social media. While it doesn’t need to take a tremendous amount of time each day, it can also be blown up into a full time job. Having a focused strategy is key to keeping it all in perspective. Thanks for your post!

Author Feb 19, 2011
10:41 pm
#13 Shari Weiss :

Linnea, I’m certain that going forward there will be countless opportunities for social media practitioners in companies from all industries.

Feb 18, 2011
6:27 am

Hi Shari
Your post on the pros and cons of social media is excellent.
My business is all about building relationships with my subscribers and helping people online. Without facebook in particular, I would find business so much harder. I am learning all the time and all it takes is to be one step ahead to be able to help others.

Best wishes


Author Feb 19, 2011
3:24 pm
#15 Shari Weiss :

I love the one step ahead approach — reminds me of when I taught classes that I’d never held before. YUP, you need to make certain you are one step ahead.
BTW, isn’t the business world becoming more fun, now that we are becoming more friendly?

Feb 19, 2011
11:35 am
#16 Susan Redmon :

Hi Shari, thanks for sharing the 6 social media questions. There’s a lot to consider! I think #6 is especially important because there are so many social media sites to choose from. Evaluating options and focusing on those that best fit your goals and objectives is critical to success if you are building a business online.

Thanks for sharing,

Author Feb 19, 2011
2:17 pm
#17 Shari Weiss :

Susan, you are SO RIGHT. Too many times businesses want to just get started, but when they don’t first figure out what they want to accomplish, they will no doubt be disappointed. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Feb 21, 2011
12:48 pm
#18 laptop cases :

So if i have a facebook account why should i need a twitter account for? That’s what i’m trying to understand cause in these days people say: Oh, but i’m online everyday and i have FB TW MS accounts i rule the network i’m living my life on these platforms!! Now i’m asking you all , why should i sing in on all this sites if there is no a real reason for doing this?

Author Feb 26, 2011
8:27 am
#19 Shari Weiss :

Social media strategy is not a one-size-fits-all.
For best results, you need objectives and a plan. If your target audience populates a particular platform you may want to consider being there as well.

Feb 25, 2011
12:09 am
#20 Marc Korn :

Hi Shari,

Great job of sharing some great information that will help people to understand and get started properly with social media.

There is so much information out there about social media these days that can be overwhelming to people. But, since it is such a POWERFUL tool to create your brand and build relationships, it is so important to approach it the right way.

You have supplied info that will give many people a great start.

To your continued success,

Author Feb 25, 2011
12:15 am
#21 Shari Weiss :

Marc, there are tons of social media bloggers, but not a lot of us try to help the vast majority of Baby Boomer entrepreneurs who are finally understanding that social media is the New Normal in the world of buisness, communication, and news/information distribution.

Dec 14, 2011
5:06 am
#22 Carla George :

Great outline of what social media is about and which sites are typically key to growing our online presence. My business is all about building relationships with my subscribers and helping people online. Linnea, Iโ€™m certain that going forward there will be countless opportunities for social media practitioners in companies from all industries. This is a very concise and clear intro to social media.

Dec 20, 2011
10:25 am
#23 Andre :

Great information about social media.Your post on the pros and cons of social media is excellent.

Mar 16, 2012
3:32 pm

A great post explaining what Social Media Marketing actually is and what are the primary sites to prefer most. very informative and useful! Thanks Shari!

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