Social media: a tech term you've been hearing about. FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, and Kazaa. On the business side, what about LinkedIn, CraigsList, and EBay? They, too, exemplify:

" ... the integration of technology and interaction" (from Wikipedia, a 'wiki' website and yet another example).

This (or any) blog is also a type of social media. We're blogging to have a conversation with someone having a shared interest: you. You can comment back and tell us what you think: you can interact. And our blogging goal is to create a community to connect, share, and for you to come back: we're marketing. But is a business blog worth your investment of time and money? What's the ROI of social media?

Let's take a look at a community, in fact a merging of several communities, by one example: a recent podcast on the ROI of social media marketing. But, before we listen to it, let's peel back its social layers. It is:

* First, it is a podcast, an audio file that can be streamed ('listened to') online, downloaded for later, or (this is important) linked on emails, websites, and blogs;
* Second, this podcast was distributed by IT Conversations: a company that has created a community of people with shared interest in tech podcasts (i.e. a social network);
* Next, this podcast was originally recorded by yet another company, Talking Portraits, with its own online community; and,
* Last, the person being interviewed, Giovanni Gallucci, is an authority with his own community through his blog, The Agency Blog. And, how do we learn he's an 'authority'? That's right, through yet another social community hosted by Technorati.

One podcast. So many connections. So many (potential) ears.

Back to the podcast. It's 41 minutes on the topic of the ROI of social media marketing (SMM). Tom Parish (Talking Portraits) interviews Giovanni G. They are both developers and technologists, and seem to be talking 'to' both providers of SMM services and businesses considering SMM (i.e. you). The first couple of minutes are a bit clunky, but they soon fall into a very informative chat on SMM. Things to listen for:

* The difference between campaign marketing and relationships marketing;
* Short-term versus long-term marketing goals;
* The importance of community trust, and how little control you have over it;
* The commitment required - expected - by your audience;
* That ROI might not be quantifiable, but there are valuable marketing benefits to be gained;
* They use several examples. Here are links to some of them: Mattel's BarbieGirls, Lego, Digg.

Marketing hasn't changed, but these new social media tools introduce some new dynamics. Over the next few months this blog hopes to spread news about how social media is effecting and working in one marketing function - public relations. We also hope to cover other areas in public relations so this blog builds a community of PR professionals. And we hope you will tell us what interests you by adding to this blog.