Let's deconstruct the phrase 'social media' and try social + media instead.
It helps me understand where the focus should be: 90% on the social, 10% on media.
That doesn't mean there's no role for the media side. It plays a critical one, without which the social doesn't get to happen - but it does reflect where the value lays, who creates it and how.
- The social technologies that connect us
- Hands and feet
- What we choose to do together
- That which flows through social technologies
- Mouths and ears
- What they would seek to do to us/get us to do
The media side is where we pass on messages from one to another, do the viral thing, create content and publish it - in social networks and on blogs and in tweets.
It is where we fulfil those mutliple roles that once were the sole domain of the media industry - we publish, we advertise and market (to our peers). We provide the distribution through peer-to-peer pass on. We do it all in networks rather than channels, in real-time rather than their time and many-to-many rather than broadcast from one-to-many, with the one at the centre.
It is a CRITICAL part of the mix. You don't get the social without the media. The Eighth Mass Media. Us.
To recap on The Eight Mass Media:
- We are the distribution
- We are the content
- We are the user journey
- We are how messages are transmitted
- We are the medium and the media carried within it
- We are the connections AND how the connections are made
And there is a great deal of value in this. We recommend stuff - our friends buy it or buy into it.
But the greater value lies in the new, fast, user-centric, efficiencies of the 'social' part of the phrase.
That is, that all our media-like activity brings us together with people seeking to solve the same problem or improve the same experience
And this is where the efficiencies happen.
A very small-scale example:
- A social technology (Twitter) is created (social)
- I (social) tweet a complaint about a brand (media)
- A person (social) representing the brand uses social technology to discover this (social)
- The person (social) contacts me (media)
- We engage in conversation (media)
- My problem is resolved (social)
- The person representing the brand (social) discovers a way to improve their current system - making it more efficient for brand and consumer (social)
- I (social) tweet my peers to say how pleased I am with the outcome (media)
- I (social) recommend the brand representative to my peers (social)
How does that scale?
Remember: The people who can make most difference to your organisation don't work for it. Adapting to the network means that they can.
So broadening the listening for what's wrong with your brand, as experienced by end-users, effectively delivers crowd-sourced improvements - R&D and NPD - in rapid iteration and at small cost.
Make no mistake - there is much more to this than reputation management.
Social + Media generates low-cost NPD, R&D, P2P Marketing, Advertising, Recruitment and all that reputation management warmth, too.
The process adapts the org to the expressed needs of the network (people) - it transforms your organisation into one in which the greater part of its energy is generated from beyond the organisation - and one in which that increased energy nourishes a growing, changing and responding org.