At the end of April, ASDS offered a class called, “Introduction to Social Media.” (If you missed the class, we will be offering another soon.)
Towards the end of the class, one student asked the obvious question: “Why is it called ‘social’ media?” Truthfully, I answered, it is such a part of my day that I wasn’t really sure. So I went to find out.
Old School Media – 19th and 20th centuries
In the Old School media model, information was doled out to the population by powerful authority figures, who told you want they wanted you to hear. There wasn’t a way to easily respond (other than to buy the product), and it was next to impossible to find and connect with other like-minded people.
Information flowed one way. Advertising was crafted to reach the widest audience, and the lowest common denominator.
Social Media – 21st century
In the Social Media model, information now runs both ways between the authority source and the reader. This ability to communicate directly and immediately with the source of news is a major change in the way information gets handled. Because of its direct, one-to-many-and-back-again method, it’s called “social.”
But more than that, social media allows information to run around the authority source. And whole conversations about any topic can be discussed directly among all the constituents, regardless of their physical location.
The Cost of Social Media
In the Old School methods, we had to craft messages for the masses. You never knew who was going to see your message and it needed to be generic enough to make it worth the cost of producing and distributing it.
Now, Social Media is essentially free, and not only can we afford to pick a niche and fulfill it, we will be able to find the people who want this niche.
In short, we will begin to build tribes. Fortunately, the concept of tribes is as old as humanity, so we aren’t completely re-inventing communications. We are implementing the next incarnation of tribes, facilitated by social media – Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others.
Here’s a great TED Talk about how media has evolved from Old School to being social. We would love to hear your comments or experiences with social media.