This is a question that’s being asked around the world right now. What is social media? What does it do? And, most importantly, what can it do for me and my business?

Social Media mainly refers to hosting a blog, tweeting on Twitter, using LinkedIn for professional networking, and no discussion of social media would be complete without mention of Facebook and Myspace. These are the most popular options, though there are several more, such as Delicious.

Five years ago I went back to college to earn my degree in Communications.

When I started writing op-ed pieces for the school paper, my classmates told me I needed to get on Facebook and Myspace so that we could collaborate on articles, keep in touch, and get to know each other better. They texted instead of calling. Emails were rarely, if ever used. YouTube was used in classroom presentations, as well as in projects. Twitter and LinkedIn were mostly unheard of just yet, but several people were reading, writing, and discussing blogs. I thought I’d landed on another planet.

It is a sign of the times, and I, for one, am having a lot of fun with this new, less formal, more interactive kind of communication.

When I had a thriving retail boutique 10 years ago, advertising and marketing for small business was directed more one way. If you broadcast your message well enough people would respond by coming into the shop. Now businesses are engaging potential clients into more of a conversation instead of a one way broadcast. It’s actually much more polite than the traditional shout out of a print ad and allows for that something all successful business people crave: feedback