Social Media Breakdown

[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”http://ow.ly/213pU” only_single=false]The term “social media” is used a lot at the moment. People employ the phrase in a massively generic way to represent anything that involves interactive content. They reckon that if you label it as this, you can somehow talk about it as a single entity.

It’s a dangerous thing to do. Social media represents a number of high-profile and very diverse websites. Most prominently Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Each of these is very powerful and have their own sophisticated networks and culture. But it’s important to remember that they are not the same.

If you’re a business, you can’t approach Twitter in the same way as you approach Facebook for instance. On Facebook you create little hubs of content which remain there for a while. They are static and allow your “friends” to interact with you, and one another, based on conversations which you are, essentially, directing.

On Twitter however, your content is current for a matter of minutes. It floats by on people’s streams and then it’s gone. Each tweet may generate conversation but that too is always moving away from you. It’s transient and Twitter really requires a greater commitment to regularly creating great content. What Twitter does do, however is allow you to jump into other peoples conversations in a way that they walled garden of Facebook doesn’t allow.

YouTube is a hub of conversation but I defy any marketers to make use of that aspect. Sure you can make great videos which generate a buzz but the conversation is completely subjective and not much help from a communications point of view. It is a constant though, in the same way as Facebook is, so you can focus on it for longer term projects.

So, please, fellow social media professionals, can we stop using the term as a catch-all? Give each tool in your arsenal the attention it needs and we’ll get a step closer to gaining some respect for what we do.

*image credit Josep Altarriba

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4 thoughts on “Social Media Breakdown

  1. What about LinkedIn? In recommending channels for engagement with users, LinkedIn is perhaps more useful for many (but not all) types of business – particularly in terms of lead generation.

    It’s less transient than Twitter, but also harder to pin down. Would be interested to see what your assessment is for a business user who wants to have a conversation, but doesn’t necessarily think of themselves as a brand.

    1. Good point Dan, LinkedIn is coming on in leaps and bounds as a seriously useful networking tool.

      I agree that it comes under the heading of social media but I guess I’m talking about non-business focussed channels in this post.

      Look out for a big LinkedIn update coming soon which should redress the balance.

  2. The term Social Media is used so widely as we all need something to pigeon hole the networks, outlets activity and conversation that it involves. It is not ideal but without it, it would make trying to talk about it very hard. Take the term ‘Social Media Marketing’, I think this will die out as more and more people accept that it is now an integral part of the marketing mix.

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