Monday, December 15, 2008

What is Social Media? Part 1

Up until now, the majority of the folks I know personally in the advertising business are clueless about how social media works, and how to use it. So let's do a quick, basic primer on the beast.

Social Media is also know as Web 2.0.

We have come a long way since AOL was giving away discs to get us to sign up for the America OnLine version of the Internet. Accessing the internet at home meant tying up your phone line for hours and waiting for a connection, and what are now considered incredibly slow upload and download speeds. This was less than 20 years ago!

Social Media has been made possible due to the technology advances in computer hardware, software, and what I'll call netware. Netware is the stuff that is the programs that are not stored on your computer, but are out there somewhere on the internet. Like this website for example.

As the speed of the internet has increased, it has allowed us as individuals to do more, and do more faster.

Let's look at the root of Social Media by looking at the two words:

Social. We are by nature social beings. We interact with each other, in person, over the phone, and now by using technology like text messaging and the variety of internet resources that allow for two way communication.

Media. Despite some beliefs, most old media did and does allow for a two way conversation, just not at the speed of the internet. Newspapers usually featured letters to the editor. Radio and Television have had talk shows that allow viewers and listeners to call in and interact with the person live on the air. But the internet has leveled the field.

In order to have a voice on the internet, you need access to a computer and time. You do not need a printing press, you do not need a licence and broadcasting equipment. There are plenty of resources online that allow and encourage you to use them at absolutely no cost to you.

So how does this work? So far the advantage is in the favor of the individual. We have been willing to trade the free social media for a few advertising messages. Like the radio stations I work for that anyone can listen to at no cost, we make our money selling advertising.

What is the challanging part is to come up with a business model for social media that attracts both advertisiers and consumers and effectively links them together so that the advertisier sees a positive return on their advertising investment.

Many traditional media outlets, (radio, tv, print) have added websites with advertising, but the jury is still out on the success of these websites. It will continue to evolve, just as the technology that makes the internet possible evolves.

One thing is certain. The internet and social media will continue to grow and those that ignore it are doomed to extinsion. Don't know when that will occur, it could be years, decades, or generations.

Now is the best time to hop on board and be a part of it.

1 comment:

  1. Good comment, Scott! I do think it is difficult concept for most to grasp but those who do will benefit in the future. There is no stopping it now!