Social media is sweeping our nation, is it here to stay or will it have its day and then fad from glory... like our old friend, the eight track tape?
According to industry expert Sree Sreenivasan, cofounder of DNAinfo.com and a journalism instructor at Columbia University, social media is here to stay.
Sree was recently a keynote speaker at the Vacation Ownership Investment Conference (VOIC) in Orlando Florida, where he talked about the future of this new business tool.
"We are at the infancy of a great revolution," proclaimed Sree, "harness the public attention with social media or else get left behind." Sree believes that social media must become an integral part of any marketing plan as we move forward in this age of technology.
Sree encouraged us to look at social media of today... like the television was in the 50s. No one of the time expected the TV to be able to compete with radio, let alone become the mass media instrument it has become today. Large companies wouldn't dream of a marketing plan that did not include television advertising to promote and build their brand. In 10 years, Sree believes we will regard social media in the same way.
So you know you need to jump into this new and unknown territory but you have no idea where to start. Take heart, the internet is full of helpful information on the subject but to save you some time, here is what I have learned from scourging the web and our friend Wikipedia.
Social media: Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking, collaborative projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites and virtual communities. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging and crowdsourcing to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.
• Blogs: Blogger, ExpressionEngine, LiveJournal, Open Diary, TypePad, Vox, WordPress, Xanga, ning, GoDaddy
• Microblogging: FMyLife, Foursquare, Jaiku, Plurk, Posterous, Tumblr, Twitter, Qaiku, Yammer, Google Buzz
• Location-based social networks: Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook places, The Hotlist
• Social networking: ASmallWorld, Cyworld, Facebook, Hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Tagged, XING
• Information Aggregators: Netvibes, Twine (website)
• Wikis: PBworks, Wetpaint, Wikia, Wikimedia
• Social bookmarking (or social tagging): CiteULike, Delicious, Diigo, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, folkd
• Social news: Digg, Mixx, NowPublic, Reddit, Newsvine, MyWeboo
• Social navigation: Trapster, Waze 
• Content Management Systems: Wordpress
• Document Managing and Editing Tools: Google Docs, Syncplicity, Docs.com, Dropbox Reviews and opinions
• Business reviews: Customer Lobby, Yelp, Inc.
• Community Q&A: Askville, EHow, Stack Exchange, WikiAnswers, Yahoo! Answers
• Social media measurement: Attensity, Statsit, Sysomos, Vocus
Before you go cross eyed and start hitting your head against the wall... you don't have to do everything out there! You can start with a Facebook page, a Twitter account or a company blog.
If your company has the resources to hire someone to manage your social media great, but if not, all is not lost. Find an employee that has some social media savvy and get started.
The important thing to remember is that social media is intended to be... well... social. This is not a set it and forget it endeavor! It doesn't do any good to ask for public input or opinion if no one is paying attention. If negative input is seen, take the opportunity to make things right for that customer. After all it is cheaper to keep a current customer then find a new one.