Why is Social Media About Media?

February 10, 2009
46 Views

I’m as guilty as anyone else–after all, my blog is subtitled strategies and tips on social media and online marketing–but why the focus on media?
Social networking makes sense, typically alluding to online versions of the community center bulletin board, printed restaurant review guides, telephone “party” lines, suggestion boxes, and assorted customer service modules.
While its Wikipedia […]


Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, please consider following more tips by RSS or email delivery. | Twitter | FriendFeed | Email

HumorI’m as guilty as anyone else–after all, my blog is subtitled strategies and tips on social media and online marketing–but why the focus on media?

Social networking makes sense, typically alluding to online versions of the community center bulletin board, printed restaurant review guides, telephone “party” lines, suggestion boxes, and assorted customer service modules.

While its Wikipedia entry distinguishes social media from industrial media–newspapers, television, and film–the fact remains the second word, “media,” continues to have connotations that make some uneasy if they don’t like talking to the press. Not to mention, I’ve had numerous conversations in recent months with high school students around town; and while they use MySpace and Facebook, they never heard of the term social media–even if that’s what it is may be.

Chris Rasmussen, in a recent interview about using social tools in e-government, hit the nail on its head when he compared social media to a “Rorschach test in that everyone sees something” differently.

The Guardian’s technology correspondent, Bobbie Johnson, is fed up with social media. He’s had enough. He’s one of those people Chris would categorize as seeing things differently.

Bobbie confesses to his blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking addictions; but he’s tired of “the incessant chatter about how social media is changing the world.”

Bobbie writes on his blog:

Nobody talks about people down the pub laughing… as a “social drinking sensation.” They don’t call people giggling about it on the phone as a “social telecommunications sensation.” They call it joking, or they call it gossip, because that’s what people do. Whether they do it online or offline, down the pub or on Facebook doesn’t matter. “Social media” is mainstream–we don’t need to claim any more victories for it.

Within Bobbie’s tirade was a riff on social media group blog Mashable.com (where I disclose I’m a fledgling contributing writer), at which point Mashable editor-in-chief Pete Cashmore chimed in with a comment about halfway down:

[I]t may seem to you that blogs are over emphasizing the importance of these developments, but can you really disagree with the statement that the web, and its powerful social tools, are one of the most significant transitions the media has experienced?

Wait a minute. Bobbie jokes about “social drinking” and “social telecommunications” but Pete echoes Chris Rasmussen and uses the umbrella term of “social tools.”

If Pete is right and social tools are an evolutionary step for media, then why are we using “social” to describe media? It’s not like mass media has conquered how to use the social tools, has it?


Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, please consider following more tips by RSS or email delivery. | Twitter | FriendFeed | Email


Link to original post