Social Media Monday: What is Social Media?
October 3, 2016 02:46 PM
Today we inaugurate a new series of articles on NAHC Report that I hope you will enjoy and find useful. It’s called Social Media Monday and, as the name implies, NAHC Report will feature a story on Monday about social media and how NAHC members can use it.
So, what is social media? Well, the dictionary definition is “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Straightforward, but not particularly helpful. The truth is, the term social media is often used so widely and vaguely that it could be applied to almost any website on the Internet. The “social” part of social media refers to the interaction and sharing of information between people. The “media” part of social media refers to the instrument of that communication – in this case, the Internet and web-based applications. So, to sum it up as best as I can, social media is the interaction of people who create, share and consume information using web-based communication tools.
Social media platforms are remarkably diverse, but most of them share some common features. Those features are:
User accounts – a personal or corporate account that the user must log into;
Personal profile pages – a page featuring information about the user, such as a biography, photo, personal website;
Personalization – the ability to configure the settings of the social media platform to suit the user’s interests and needs;
Information updates – something posted by the user, which can be original content, a link to content elsewhere, a photo, a YouTube video, etc.;
Followers, friends or groups – a subset of users with like interests who arrange themselves together so they can more efficiently consume and share information;
Comment – the ability to respond to another user on the platform with your own thoughts. This could be in the form of words or something as simple as a “like” button to register approval.
What are those communication tools?Well, for now, let’s limit the discussion to three of the biggest social media platforms out there – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The biggest social media network of them all (and the subject of a successful Hollywood movie) is Facebook. It is only about twelve-and-a-half years old, but it already has about 1.6 billion monthly active users. It is easy and intuitive to use and connecting with interesting and like-minded people is simple and quick. This makes it one of the best ways in the world to connect people all over the world with your agency so that you and they can share information. Over one million small and medium-sized businesses are estimated to use Facebook to connect with the rest of the world. Apart from simply alerting people to your existence, Facebook is superb at updating people about what you are doing, as it is easy to leave quick comments and updates and the platform is almost ideal for hosting photographs and video.
If you think you cannot learn or teach others in 140 characters or less, think again. Twitter, which is about ten-and-a-half years old, has more than 320 million active monthly users and for getting out news quickly to a large number of people, it’s invaluable. It is also probably the single best way to keep up with fast-moving events. Agencies can use Twitter to follow the latest home health care news, share their own news with clients, colleagues and patients. Twitter also allows businesses to use targeted ads for a specific audience.
Finally, let’s not forget about LinkedIn, easily the most popular social media site for professional networking. Launched in May 2003, LinkedIn has over 400 million registered users and is superb for people looking to connect with people in a similar industry. LinkedIn is also very useful to inform the public about your agency and to network with local professionals in your line of work.
It is important to note that Facebook and Twitter are completely free and LinkedIn’s basic service is also free of charge. There are very few services available that are extremely affordable and do not require a substantial investment of time or effort.
For a look at what NAHC is doing in social media, please visit us on
Please stay tuned to NAHC Report for more on social media and how we can use it to advance the cause of quality and affordable home care and hospice.