While we’re talking definitions, let’s talk about “social media”.
Social media. What is it?
The common answer is “all that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube” stuff. And that’s what most people mean when they use that phrase. They’re referring to online social networks and media sharing tools.
The reality, however, is slightly different. The reality is that social media is bigger than that. Social media is the whole Internet. And much more.
“You’re crazy, Greg!” I hear you say… but before you close this browsing tab, hear me out.
You see, a lot of people look at the Internet like a library: lots of collections of pages. Pages which can be edited in a great variety of ways. This page editing is used to engage with each other socially.
A page is a medium. Offline, they are newspapers, television, radio and magazines. These are things which can be controlled, programmed, altered. They are controlled by a few to communicate to many.
What about a conversation, though? Is a conversation a medium? It can’t be controlled, programmed or altered. It’s something that occurs naturally, spontaneously. It is the meaningful social engagement between at least two people; an engagement which operates in both directions — not just one.
The Internet isn’t a library; the Internet is a conversation. It’s a massive spontaneous multi-stranded cross-referenced conversation.
That conversation isn’t limited to just the Internet. It extends beyond that and into our “offline” spaces. It’s not just the Web but also our text messages, our heart-to-hearts, and, really, any poly-directional interaction we engage in with anyone else.
Everything on the Internet is a conversational statement being made and, with the power of hyperlinking, everything else can be a reply.
So, what is social media? The Internet is a medium; it is one of many media that make up social media. It’s what we’re doing right now; it’s what you spend most of your time doing online.
When you look at the Internet that way, doesn’t your approach change?
What will you be doing in 2012?
Will you still be working in “social media” or will you be working in online communications or online communities?
Will you be putting together some web pages or will you be starting a conversation (and replying to many more)?
See you in the new year… and don’t forget to subscribe!