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For those outside web design and marketing, the hype surrounding Social Media leaves a lot of people shaking their heads.

The icons are plastered everywhere. TV and radio programs regularly sign off with invitations to “follow us on Twitter or our Face Book Page”.

There’s always a story in the newspapers about some politician opening a twitter account or someone’s FaceBook entry destroying a career or marriage.

Social Media mania is here!

The contrarian wants to resist, the pragmatist knows resistance is futile.

“OK, I tried it. It’s stupid. I have nothing that I want to share with other people and I don’t have time anyway.”

How many of us have said or heard that before?

I was cynical about Twitter and Face Book when I was first learned of them.  But being a bit of a tech freak (Future Shop is my Santa Store) and a marketing amateur, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

I wasn’t impressed.  I couldn’t see the point. I had nothing to say.

Since my real friends weren’t on line, who was I supposed to have a conversation with?

So I let the accounts slip.  Then notices began to appear in my email box from family who I hadn’t been in touch with for many years requesting to “friend” them on Face Book.  I did and soon we were sharing photos and updates. Connections were re-established and past friendships, renewed.

Epiphany!  This wouldn’t have been possible without Face Book.  I converted from cynic to believer.

Like olives or oysters; social media is an acquired taste.

It takes experimentation and repetition. Mistakes will be made. (Just remember to check your privacy settings to minimize the damage.)

Making sense of Social Media isn’t really all that difficult.

While all media is inherently social because it facilitates communication, social media takes it further by allowing us to create and share the content we consume.

This is done through the use of such online tools as Twitter, Face Book, Linkedin, blogs etc.

Navigating through this maze of applications is quite a different matter.

To the joy of early adopters and techies everywhere, applications and technologies evolve constantly.  For the rest of us, the first things we should ask ourselves before choosing one is:

“What do we want our social media experience to be?”

“Who do we want to interact with?”

“What do we want to say?”

We should know where we want to go before deciding how to get there.

Was your social media involvement acquired or immediate?

About Ray Hiltz

Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus Specialist and Social Media Strategist helping small businesses establish their brands and build their communities on the social web. A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social". Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.