What is social media?

Dare Obasanjo is asking “what is social media?” Frank Shaw (he’s a VP with Waggener Edstrom and is one of the key people helping Microsoft out with its PR) admits he isn’t comfortable with the “social media” term too.

The best way to understand a new media is to compare it to what’s come before? So, what kind of media do you have lying around your house? Probably these:

  • Newspapers.
  • Magazines.
  • Television.
  • Radio.
  • Books.
  • CDs.
  • DVDs.
  • A box of photos.
  • Physical, paper mail and catalogs.
  • Yellow Pages.

Now, what about the media (my blog) you’re reading right now? What are some attributes of it that are different than any of the “old media” above?

  1. The media above can’t be changed. A newspaper can’t magically change its stories, even if society decides something in them is incorrect. My blog can be updated for all readers nearly instantly if someone demonstrates that I was wrong on a post.
  2. You can interact with my blog. You can leave a comment. Call me an arsehole. Etc. Etc. With the above you can’t interact at all.
  3. You can get some sense of the popularity of my stuff in real time. How many comments does each post get? How many links does each post get? I can see in WordPress how much traffic each item gets. You can visit Digg to see voting on my blog’s items. Or, TechMeme to see which blog items got most links in the past few hours. None of the media above do you have a clue about the granular popularity of any of the items until much later after best seller lists are published.
  4. With the “new media” you can look at my archives and see all posts. Try doing that with a newspaper. Yeah, you can, if you pay the San Jose Mercury News a fee. But it’s not as easy as it is here.
  5. Here on my blog I can mix media. A post could contain text, audio, video, or photos. Not so on newspaper or magazines.
  6. Here on my blog I don’t need to convince a committee to publish. Not true with other media forms. Imagine you walked into CNN and said “hey, I have some cool video, can you publish it?”
  7. The new media is infinite. The media above all has limitations in terms of either length (a TV station only has 24 hours in a day — over on YouTube, I guarantee they publish a lot more than 24 hours of video in a day) or in quantity (try to convince USA Today to publish a 40,000 word article, or, 500 articles on the same topic).
  8. The new media is syndicatable and linkable and easily reused. I can link to your media here, for instance, a few seconds after you publish it. Try doing THAT with any of the above media. Not to mention, my words here kick into an RSS feed which you can then republish using something like Google Reader, if you’d like, or you can copy a sentence out of my post, paste it into your own blog, and say something about what I just said.
  9. The new media can be mashed up with data from other services. Check out that Amazon advertisement over to the right. Did you realize that isn’t on my, or WordPress.com’s, servers? It actually gets served up from some organization I don’t control. Amazon could, if it wanted to, replace the image there with a different book. Or, something else. Many people are putting widgets on their blogs that display various things from places they don’t control. That’s impossible in the older media above.

When I say “social media” or “new media” I’m talking about Internet media that has the ability to interact with it in some way. IE, not a press release like over on PR Newswire, but something like what we did over on Channel 9 where you could say “Microsoft sucks” right underneath one of my videos.

I don’t really care what you call this “new media” but you’ve got to admit that something different is happening here than happens on other media above.

Any other ways that “social media” is different from the older media above?

Maybe we should call it “Media 2.0?” After all, I’m a new member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup (the feed there rocks, by the way).

209 thoughts on “What is social media?

  1. Social media is a must if you own a business. It forms true sound relationships and reputation that are valid and reliable sources. If you have become a target for any resaon of unfaor negative publicity then these relatiopnships will prove essential because they will know you and your ethics in business not just something that mindless or malicious people have chosen to write without validity. Bullie Pups R Us owner.

  2. Social media is a must if you own a business. It forms true sound relationships and reputation that are valid and reliable sources. If you have become a target for any resaon of unfaor negative publicity then these relatiopnships will prove essential because they will know you and your ethics in business not just something that mindless or malicious people have chosen to write without validity. Bullie Pups R Us owner.

  3. I understand that in the digital world…its a new media platform where u can post, edit, interact on published content…its like putting up adjective clause… content may be blog content, article, video and or audio castng.

  4. I understand that in the digital world…its a new media platform where u can post, edit, interact on published content…its like putting up adjective clause… content may be blog content, article, video and or audio castng.

  5. I understand that in the digital world…its a new media platform where u can post, edit, interact on published content…its like putting up adjective clause… content may be blog content, article, video and or audio castng.

  6. Contemporary discussions around social media tend to define social media, in contradistinction to traditional media. Does that mean that traditional media i.e. pre-Internet media are unsocial? I think that every communications medium is social in so far it achieves its essential role, that is, to successfully mediate communication between two people. Then it is by definition social. Unsocial media are broken media.
    The most oft quoted distinction between social and traditional media has been the direction of communication. Social media are two-way while traditional media are one-way. But communication does not have to be two-way to be communication. That is why we speak of one-way communication; because it involves the successful communication of one person’s message to another. But then pre-Internet media are also social. Then why is everybody talking about ‘Social Media’? What is new about them?

    Though i read Scoble’s post after writing my own on the subject, and think he pretty much captures it, visit my post at http://agoraplace.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-social-role-of-the-internet-part-i-the-origins-of-web-20-and-social-media/ for another take on the subject.

  7. Contemporary discussions around social media tend to define social media, in contradistinction to traditional media. Does that mean that traditional media i.e. pre-Internet media are unsocial? I think that every communications medium is social in so far it achieves its essential role, that is, to successfully mediate communication between two people. Then it is by definition social. Unsocial media are broken media.
    The most oft quoted distinction between social and traditional media has been the direction of communication. Social media are two-way while traditional media are one-way. But communication does not have to be two-way to be communication. That is why we speak of one-way communication; because it involves the successful communication of one person’s message to another. But then pre-Internet media are also social. Then why is everybody talking about ‘Social Media’? What is new about them?

    Though i read Scoble’s post after writing my own on the subject, and think he pretty much captures it, visit my post at http://agoraplace.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-social-role-of-the-internet-part-i-the-origins-of-web-20-and-social-media/ for another take on the subject.

  8. Contemporary discussions around social media tend to define social media, in contradistinction to traditional media. Does that mean that traditional media i.e. pre-Internet media are unsocial? I think that every communications medium is social in so far it achieves its essential role, that is, to successfully mediate communication between two people. Then it is by definition social. Unsocial media are broken media.
    The most oft quoted distinction between social and traditional media has been the direction of communication. Social media are two-way while traditional media are one-way. But communication does not have to be two-way to be communication. That is why we speak of one-way communication; because it involves the successful communication of one person’s message to another. But then pre-Internet media are also social. Then why is everybody talking about ‘Social Media’? What is new about them?

    Though i read Scoble’s post after writing my own on the subject, and think he pretty much captures it, visit my post at http://agoraplace.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-social-role-of-the-internet-part-i-the-origins-of-web-20-and-social-media/ for another take on the subject.

  9. What is Social Media? Come to SocialMedia.com and find out, if I can so shamelessly plug our company. We’ve got the largest network of application developers on Facebook and some of our guys are making over $10K a day in earnings. There are lots of techniques to become viral, but the next step is monetizing that traffic, which we specialize in.

    Dennis Yu
    Analytics
    dennis@SocialMedia.com

  10. What is Social Media? Come to SocialMedia.com and find out, if I can so shamelessly plug our company. We’ve got the largest network of application developers on Facebook and some of our guys are making over $10K a day in earnings. There are lots of techniques to become viral, but the next step is monetizing that traffic, which we specialize in.

    Dennis Yu
    Analytics
    dennis@SocialMedia.com

  11. What is Social Media? Come to SocialMedia.com and find out, if I can so shamelessly plug our company. We’ve got the largest network of application developers on Facebook and some of our guys are making over $10K a day in earnings. There are lots of techniques to become viral, but the next step is monetizing that traffic, which we specialize in.

    Dennis Yu
    Analytics
    dennis@SocialMedia.com

  12. I took a shot at updating the Wiki entry: “Social media: A form of communications, very often associated with marketing, advertising, or persuassive communication, where the users publish the content with the specific intention of sharing it with others.”

    Recognizing that “marketing” is simply one aspect of SM, it also seems to be a very fundamental one, for a couple of reasons. First, given that we are each subjected to (if you believe it…) something like 3,000 messages per day, then a commnications medium that potentially *that* (by replacing interruptive push with permission-based pull) is very definitely and properly associated with marketing. Second, when I share a photo album, it’s to show (you) what I did. When I share a product experience, it’s to show you what happened (good or bad). These are the same thing: content that I want to share on the belief that (you) may enjoy it or benefit from it.

    So, yah, marketing is a component of SM. It may be “personal marketing” (as in “Look how cool my last birthday party was…don’t you wish you’d been here?) or it may be directed at encouraging or dissuading a potential purchase. Either way, the key elements–being able to alter of adapt it, subjecting it to the collective, the act of publishing user-generated content that is displacing centrally-produced, un-changeable content–are applicable to both personal and business (aka “marketing” ) uses of SM.

    I’m hopeful for a world without interruption, where the information I need to make an informed choice–business, commerce, political, personal–is immediately available. Social Media seems to deliver exactly that.

  13. I took a shot at updating the Wiki entry: “Social media: A form of communications, very often associated with marketing, advertising, or persuassive communication, where the users publish the content with the specific intention of sharing it with others.”

    Recognizing that “marketing” is simply one aspect of SM, it also seems to be a very fundamental one, for a couple of reasons. First, given that we are each subjected to (if you believe it…) something like 3,000 messages per day, then a commnications medium that potentially *that* (by replacing interruptive push with permission-based pull) is very definitely and properly associated with marketing. Second, when I share a photo album, it’s to show (you) what I did. When I share a product experience, it’s to show you what happened (good or bad). These are the same thing: content that I want to share on the belief that (you) may enjoy it or benefit from it.

    So, yah, marketing is a component of SM. It may be “personal marketing” (as in “Look how cool my last birthday party was…don’t you wish you’d been here?) or it may be directed at encouraging or dissuading a potential purchase. Either way, the key elements–being able to alter of adapt it, subjecting it to the collective, the act of publishing user-generated content that is displacing centrally-produced, un-changeable content–are applicable to both personal and business (aka “marketing” ) uses of SM.

    I’m hopeful for a world without interruption, where the information I need to make an informed choice–business, commerce, political, personal–is immediately available. Social Media seems to deliver exactly that.

  14. I took a shot at updating the Wiki entry: “Social media: A form of communications, very often associated with marketing, advertising, or persuassive communication, where the users publish the content with the specific intention of sharing it with others.”

    Recognizing that “marketing” is simply one aspect of SM, it also seems to be a very fundamental one, for a couple of reasons. First, given that we are each subjected to (if you believe it…) something like 3,000 messages per day, then a commnications medium that potentially *that* (by replacing interruptive push with permission-based pull) is very definitely and properly associated with marketing. Second, when I share a photo album, it’s to show (you) what I did. When I share a product experience, it’s to show you what happened (good or bad). These are the same thing: content that I want to share on the belief that (you) may enjoy it or benefit from it.

    So, yah, marketing is a component of SM. It may be “personal marketing” (as in “Look how cool my last birthday party was…don’t you wish you’d been here?) or it may be directed at encouraging or dissuading a potential purchase. Either way, the key elements–being able to alter of adapt it, subjecting it to the collective, the act of publishing user-generated content that is displacing centrally-produced, un-changeable content–are applicable to both personal and business (aka “marketing” ) uses of SM.

    I’m hopeful for a world without interruption, where the information I need to make an informed choice–business, commerce, political, personal–is immediately available. Social Media seems to deliver exactly that.

  15. The ideal defination of social media is the place where people can interact without any commercial or political interruptions. Sadly, the so called social media websites are losing their character and are getting more profit conscious. Can they be called social media anymore?

  16. The ideal defination of social media is the place where people can interact without any commercial or political interruptions. Sadly, the so called social media websites are losing their character and are getting more profit conscious. Can they be called social media anymore?

  17. The ideal defination of social media is the place where people can interact without any commercial or political interruptions. Sadly, the so called social media websites are losing their character and are getting more profit conscious. Can they be called social media anymore?

  18. I graduated from Communication in 1995, just when Gopher started turning into The Internet…and now I am obsolete. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that maybe you shouldn´t worry so much about those “marketing” gurus and fans who are now calling everything “marketing”…it seems to me they are transforming what is simply a new and very interesting worlwide communication phenomena (along with its corresponding social processes and consequences, as any social psychologist will explain) into what they want to be or become, a marketing tool. My message to them would be “go back to your dusty textbooks and get your concepts straight”. NOT EVERYTHING in this world is marketing.

  19. I graduated from Communication in 1995, just when Gopher started turning into The Internet…and now I am obsolete. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that maybe you shouldn´t worry so much about those “marketing” gurus and fans who are now calling everything “marketing”…it seems to me they are transforming what is simply a new and very interesting worlwide communication phenomena (along with its corresponding social processes and consequences, as any social psychologist will explain) into what they want to be or become, a marketing tool. My message to them would be “go back to your dusty textbooks and get your concepts straight”. NOT EVERYTHING in this world is marketing.

  20. I graduated from Communication in 1995, just when Gopher started turning into The Internet…and now I am obsolete. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that maybe you shouldn´t worry so much about those “marketing” gurus and fans who are now calling everything “marketing”…it seems to me they are transforming what is simply a new and very interesting worlwide communication phenomena (along with its corresponding social processes and consequences, as any social psychologist will explain) into what they want to be or become, a marketing tool. My message to them would be “go back to your dusty textbooks and get your concepts straight”. NOT EVERYTHING in this world is marketing.

  21. Pingback: jeffchasin.com

Comments are closed.