Sometimes it's worth it to get back to basics. Here is a compact roadmap to social media, compiled as an easy-to-follow A to Z guide.
Access: Some companies still deny employees access to social networks at work. According to a Cisco study, 33 percent of college students and young professionals under the age of 30 say they would prioritize social media access over salary when accepting a job offer.
Balance: Brands and people should balance the amount of time they spend on social media and each of the social networks.
Channels: Don't get caught up in social media channels. Develop a social media strategy instead.
Democracy: According to some reports, social media has sparked democracy. What do you think?
Engagement: Social media provides brands with direct access to their primary audiences: customers. Read "21 rules for social media engagement."
Facebook: Despite some people's frustration with Facebook, it is still the top social network a majority of us use. According to Business2Community, 77 percent of B2C companies acquire customers via Facebook.
Google+: Google+ is now the second-largest social network. Google+ appeals to many because of three reasons: search results, hangouts and the new communities.
Humanize: Social media humanizes brands. Humans connect with humans-not with brands or logos. Social media helps tear down the traditional walls large organizations put up. Read "10 ways to humanize your brand on social media."
Instagram: Despite Instagram recently losing 25 percent of its daily active users, it is still a top choice for photo sharing. Read "5 things brands can learn from the Instagram fallout" and "3 ways to grow your Instagram community."
Journalists: We are all citizen journalists now. In other words, we all play an active role in collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. Remember how social media played a big role in the US Airways plane crash into the Hudson River.
Knowledge: You can learn a lot on social networks. As a job seeker, you can learn about your future company before you interview there. As a brand, you can learn about the digital body language of your customers.
LinkedIn: With more than 200 million users, this network keeps growing. It is the top social network for many B2B companies. Read "7 steps to LinkedIn success for B2B companies." The new endorsements feature has negative and positive reviews, but the jury is still out. In the meantime, you may want to read about how to make the most of LinkedIn endorsements.
MySpace: Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back to MySpace. But is it enough? Only time will tell, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Read "5 things marketers will love about MySpace."
News: People now go to Twitter or other social networks to find out news since it can break faster there than through traditional media outlets. Read "How social media is taking over the news industry."
Openness: Whether you like or not, you are learning a lot about your friends and brands than you ever did before-the good, the bad, and the ugly. Social media is breaking down the traditional walls of information friends or brands put up.
Pinterest: This network has exploded. It is on its way to becoming a household name in social media. Pinterest is addictive, and it recently launched business pages. Read "5 ways brands use Pinterest to authentically connect."
Quora: With the death of LinkedIn answers, this Q&A site has a lot of potential. Bing has integrated it into its social search. Read "9 ways to get more out of Quora."
Relationships: This is what social media is all about: connecting with others.
Slideshare: This is the most underutilized site out there. Read "7 reasons why B2B marketers should love SlideShare" and "11 ways to use SlideShare for content marketing success."
Twitter: Twitter is where a lot of news breaks these days. According to Twitter, users send more than 1 billion tweets every three days.
Universe: Social media opens up your world to the entire universe—not just your city, town, neighborhood or street. You can connect with people all over the world with a couple of clicks.
Voice: It is important to find and craft your authentic voice on social media. Read "How 5 top brands crafted their social media voices" and "5 tips to strengthen your company's social media voice."
Have you developed your personal social media voice? What about your brand's voice? Read "20 great social media voices and how to develop your own."
Widgets: Social networks have developed stand-alone applications you can embed into other applications, like a website or desktop. Some of the top social media widgets are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.
X-factor: Social media is changing the game. It can be hard to truly describe social media's influence on marketing, public relations, organizations and people, but social media is changing worlds.
YouTube: The "Gangnam Style" video on YouTube has more than 1 billion views. Need I say more about the popularity of this social network?
Zest: In other words: vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment. This is what social media is all about. People enjoy spending time on social media. In the United States, people spent 121 billion minutes on social media in July 2012, according to Nielsen's 2012 social media report. That is 6.5 hours per person (if every person in the U.S. used social media).
What would you suggest as alternative letters to this list?
A version of this article originally appeared on Knowledge Enthusiast.