Monday, April 05, 2010

What Is Social Media?

I’ve been hearing a lot of definitions of social media recently.

In one article, social media was described as customer relationship management.

Another article described social media as a way of thinking, not just a set of tools.

If you check with Wikipedia, social media is defined as “media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. It supports the democratization of knowledge and information and transforms people from content consumers to content producers.”

And while all of the above are probably correct, even though I’m not sure that I understand the Wikipedia definition, it seems to me that there should be an easier way to describe social media.

To me, social media is anything that doesn’t exhibit anti-social behaviors.

What do I mean by anti-social behavior? Well, when it comes to advertising, anti-social behavior would be the type of advertising that intrudes on the program that you’re watching. In a typical half hour program, that’s 10 minutes of intrusion, or 10 minutes of anti-social behavior.

To narrow it down even further, social media is where people spend time with content, and yes, that content can be advertising, on their own initiative, rather than the advertiser’s initiative.

Running commercials that the viewer can’t control on a social media site isn’t social media advertising. It’s anti-social behavior on a social media site.

Maybe that’s why it hasn’t been working so well.

Up to now, we’ve been confusing social media with content.

Social media is about intent, not content. Social media is allowing the viewer to be in control.

Maybe it’s the word “media” that screws things up.

If advertisers thought about “social behavior” versus social media, would that make things easier?

Nah, probably not.

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