There are literally thousands if not millions of what could be classified as social media sites. However, as I see it, social media is not “media” at all. This may come to you as a surprise given all the buzzwords seem to center around social media. The main reason I don’t classify “social media” as media is because it naturally puts it into the same category as mass media channels. Moreover, when we think of media or the act of buying media, it usually takes the form of a passive advertising vehicle such as television or radio. So why is social media is not media? Allow me to make a few points:
1.) You (the advertiser) cannot tell consumers or businesses to purchase products or services simply because you tell them too. Furthermore, consumers and businesses do not want to be sold, but rather buy based upon their own intrinsic instincts.
2.) Social media cannot be purchased in the same fashion as mass media such as television or radio (I use these as examples due to their similar capability of reach.)
3.) Generally speaking when we think of “media,” it is passive, where social channels encourage direct engagement.
4.) When done properly, you can create brand advocates that can share their experience and literally reach tens, thousands, tends of thousands, or even more in the blink of an eye. However, timing or anticipation of such a result is hard to predict in most cases
5.) Your social efforts can instantaneous and reach the masses regardless of its key message and furthermore cannot control of the organic nature of the market response in any given point in time.
I want to be clear in saying that I am not advocating that you should ignore social channels, but perhaps view them differently when creating your ultimate campaign. Each social site has its own unique characteristics and must be respectfully embraced. Thus, pounding the same marketing messages into these channels without understanding them may be detrimental to your campaigns success.
Case in point, although “social media” shares many of the characteristics of mass media in regards to its reach, I simply don’t think it’s fair to put it into the same category because consumers are not passive and do not purchase products and services simply because you tell them to. Moreover, social engagement cannot be purchased in the same fashion as I described above. Therefore, “social media” may have a nice ring to it when you are talking about it in the break room. However, when you break it down, it isn’t media at all.