Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Posts Tagged ‘Shared Media’

Shared Media v. Social Media: A variety of viewpoints

In Ideas, Insight on June 3, 2009 at 8:43 am

Regular Eyecube readers (both of you) will remember my post from last week asking if the term Shared Media wasn’t more accurate than Social Media. It generated some good conversation here and on Twitter, so I felt it was worth exploring further. I reached out to several people I highly respect and asked for their thoughts on the matter. The results were as insightful as they were varied. I wanted to collect them here and share them with you in hopes that we can continue the discussion.

First, DJ Francis from the OnlineMarketerBlog lays out a really well-reasoned argument before ultimately disagreeing with me, stating “All social media is shared, but not all shared media is social.” Bonus points to DJ for this passage:

In a past life, I was an apostle of structuralist literary theorist Roland Barthes and his Death of the Author essay. I concur with Barthes that “[t]o give a text [or content] an Author” and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it “is to impose a limit on that text.”

Um, yeah, I was just discussing Barthes the other night while watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Right then, moving on…

Matt Hames, who writes a blog called People Like to Share will surely be on my side, right? Well, not exactly. He likes the term participation:

So instead of social media, or earned media, or interactive, or whatever title you want to put on this new world where people can share stuff, I say call it what it is: participation.

These day, things are obviously different, and we’re all working on a definition for that difference. But I think it’s simple: consumers can participate in an unprecedented way. They can review, comment, share, disparage, or celebrate a brand.

So marketers need to craft communications that encourage the participation that will work best. And here’s the best part: the place that has the least amount of silos has a head-start.

Patricia McDonald of BBH Labs (one of my new favorites) had some great thoughts on the subject:

I think Social Media is fundamentally about people. Social media doesn’t necessarily require content in any traditional sense, it requires a purpose for individuals to congregate around. That might be a piece of content to share but it’s just as likely to be a cause, a utility, a value exchange or a collaboration.

“Social media” is undoubtedly a seriously overused phrase right now-and when it’s used to describe any and all kinds of user generated content, it probably doesn’t fit any more. Is a blog really “social media” if it doesn’t empower the community to come together, act together and be more powerful and useful together than they are individually? My real bugbear though is that because its strongest association at the moment is with social networking, it’s hard for some businesses to understand the profundity of what’s really happening with things like social lending, social product development and do on.

I’m not a huge fan of semantic debate for the sake of it, but I do think there are some genuine nuances here that are worth exploring not purely for the intellectual satisfaction but because they come back to the fundamental question for all marketeers; what are we trying to achieve? What is the commercial imperative facing this brand, what is the role of digital in helping us solve it and what, therefore, do I need consumers to do differently? When we address those questions some of these distinctions do become important in practice not just in theory. So in some cases I may want to make my consumers my media channel and bring down the cost of paid for channels (earned media), in others I may want to build a utility my consumers return to again and again, driving frequency of interaction with the brand, in which case I may be in the business of social media. Nuance may actually become quite important in giving social or indeed shared media (which I do believe are different) a clear and demonstrable commercial effect. 

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Viral? Social? How about Shared?

In Ideas, Innovation on May 28, 2009 at 8:53 am

UPDATE: Some fantastic comments on this below, make sure you read those. Also, a related post today from Patricia McDonald of BBH Labs here.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be asked by Adam Broitman of A Media Circ.us to participate in an article he wrote for iMedia Connection – Social Media: Whose job is it anyway? In addition to myself, industry heavyweights David Berkowitz, Shiv Singh, Michael Lazerow, Christine Perkett and Shel Holtz all contributed their thoughts on several thought provoking questions. It’s a way worthy read you should definitely check out.

After reading it, I got to thinking about one of the specific questions:

“In two years, will the term ‘social media’ still be relevant?”

My hunch is that the answer is “yes, it will,” but that doesn’t mean I think it is the most appropriate term. In fact, I think “Social” along with our dear friend “viral” both need to be rethought and/or scrapped.

Did you say Viral? Cough, cough, I’m feeling ill

Remember back in the day, you know, last year, when everybody wanted “Viral Videos” that would magically spread across the land, showering your with traffic, sales, etc.? Yeah, well then smart people like Mike Arauz, Faris Yakob and others shed the light on this concept and I’m not seeing the term “viral” used as much, at least not by Social Media marketing practitioners.  While I understand the original analogy, let’s be honest, who wants to engage in conversation or interact with a virus? Aren’t viruses things to be avoided? Come to think of it, that’s how I think of a lot of the “viral videos” out there now. Quite frankly, I don’t want to see another video of people dancing in a subway station; or kids lifting their eyebrows to the beat (see, I’m not even going to link to them, you know which ones I mean though).  I think the term “viral” has seen it’s time come and go.

Social Media? When was the last time you had a cup of coffee with a blog post?

Let me go back to the original article, in which Adam asked: What if the term “social media” is wrought with flaws from the onset?

 “In two years, will the term ‘social media’ still be relevant?” The alternative being that all media will inherently be social, and ultimately treated as such. The multiple choices were:

  1. Yes
  2. Yes, but I am not happy about it!
  3. No
  4. I sure hope not!

I was shocked by the response. All but one of the respondents answered “yes.” The outlier answered, “I sure hope not.”

It is my belief that the term “social media” will still be around in two years, but I hope the industry matures to a point where we realize that all media is inherently social, and that what was once deemed “social media” is now part of a larger trend in media — participation.

Let me reiterate: All media is social!

I’m not sure I agree with this, and here’s where I’m going to put forth my alternative term.

All media isn’t social, all media is shareable

I don’t think we can attribute a quality like ‘social’ to an inanimate object. To me, people are social (or not); videos, posts, photos, podcasts, etc. are simply content. Now, that content can generate social interactions between people – generate conversations, drive debate, challenge preconcieved notions – but the content itself is just that, content. If I write a blog post but never publish it, is it still ‘Social Media’?

I think the term Social Media still has relevance, when you add the word Platform at the end. A Social Media Platform (or Network) such as Twitter, Facebook or Flickr provides an opportunity for people to be social.

Shared Media – Now we’re talking

So what is good content? It’s shareable. In the PR industry they talk of earned media, as opposed to the paid media of the advertising industry (aside: Check out Greg Verdino’s take on earned media v. earned attention as well as Matt Hames’ piece on earned v. social). I think Shared Media fits nicely between earned and paid. Yes, your paid media can be shareable, but you have to earn the share by having quality content and by sharing it with the right people in the right way.

I think the term Shared Media also speaks more accurately to what is actually happening. When you pass along that great content you are sharing it. The content isn’t doing it (like in ‘Social Media’), the person is. It’s not inherent in the content (like the notion of ‘Viral Videos’), it’s based on how the content is utilized.

Let’s hear from Adam again from his Imedia article:

The word “media” itself involves two parties — a sender and a receiver. The word “social” is based on theories that involve the co-existence of people. If two people co-exist in an ecosystem and one does not respond to a message, there is still information that is sent back to the point of origin (the information being, “for one reason or another, I am not interested in your message”). Given the advanced nature of our information technology, the excuse, “I had no way of responding” does not hold water, leaving us in a state where the lack of a response is, in effect, a response.

Yes, but a lack of a response does take the ‘Social’ out of ‘Social Media.’ Shared Media allows for the possibility of one-way as well as two-way engagement.

I’d love to hear from the folks who participated in Adam’s article, as well as Adam himself, Mike and Faris too. And please share your thoughts here as well.