What the Heck is Social Media?

I’ve decided to use the next few entries in this blog to start to sort out the various aspects of social medial. I’ve been gathering material in places like my iGoogle Notebook and Delicious intending to shove the information into my brain some day to have it all make sense, to create that ultimate “click” of the meaning of life, well, at least a small part of the meaning of life becoming crystal clear. That day has come. I think?

My starting point is the question “What is social media?” Originally, I intended to steal What the F**K is Social Media taken from a Marta Kagan slidedeck but I decided to go with the PG-13 version. The highest form of flattery is to to steal. I might be paraphrasing that a bit. Plus I’m pretty sure that this does not apply to cars and personal electronic devices, but I’m positive that it works with social media content.  But as I steal I will attribute the stolen goods to the original source.  Deal?

So starting off I will outline what Ms. Kagan so colorfully and aided & abetted by volumes of statistics had to say:

  • “Social Media is the umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, video, and audio.”
  • “Social media is people having conversations online.”
  • “It’s a conversation that transparent, inclusive, authentic, vibrant, and consumer-driven NOT controlled, organized, exclusive, product driven, on-message.”

Social media conversation is powered by:  blogs, microblogs, online chat, RSS, widgets, social networks, social bookmarking, message boards, podcasting, video sharing, photo sharing, wikis . . . just to name a few.

Why should you care?

  1. Social media sites are more popular than porn sites.
  2. 78% trust the recommendation of other consumers.
  3. People are talking about your brand and/or your market right now.
  4. Social media will only become more pervasive and critical in the success or failure of any business.
  5. Generational shift: New Millennials live with social media and they trust what their friends tell them.

How to get involved:

  1. Listen.  Immerse yourself in the conversation.
  2. Participate. Remember that it’s a dialogue not a monologue
  3. Relinquish control. The goal is NOT to control the conversation, it is to ENABLE, INSPIRE, INFLUENCE, AND ENGAGE.
  4. Honesty is the ONLY policy.

So a starting point.  I will follow up with other definitions and descriptions of social media moving on to developing social media strategies and the individual social media tools.  Somewhere along the way I will interject my own thoughts and definitions which are vaguely forming.  I have one overriding, developing thought which is that social media is not a “thing”, it’s more a “philosophy”.  This ties back to Ms. Kagan’s comments about social media being a fundamental shift in the way we communicate characterized by transparency, vibrancy, inclusiveness, authenticity.  Even in the final slide of her slidedeck she illustrates this shift in including an updated version of the standard copyright verbiage “All rights reserved. (But happy to share – – just ask!)”  Quite a difference from the old school mentality of “All rights reserved. (If you even look at this the wrong way – –  we’ll see you in court!)”


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