What Is Social Media ?

Jan 23rd 2011 at 3:56 PM

When I talk to tribes about their social media optimization needs , the question always seems to arise, what is social media. Since the technology is changing and evolving and this makes it an arousing and  exciting field,  I'll try to shed some light on the subject.

In the beginning, Social media services originated as strictly a personal tool that tribes used to interact with friends and family. Later on Social media services  were adapted to business projects in order to take advantage of a popular new communication platform in order to reach out to prospects and customers. They used it to influence their clientele for example, by informing them of sales and offering them special deals.

To make a long story short, Social Media includes any tool or service that uses digital media to facilitate production and exchange of information and action using telecommunication technology. In this context, private versus work-related use and factors such as the demographics, gender and age of users influences how social media is used for a specific niche.

To be more detailed , Social Media turns consumers of content into producers of content relatively quickly and easily, without having to be technologically savvy. This means that in part social media can shift communication from a broadcast model of tribes to tribes or individuals. in most platforms, Social media means interaction with the tribe. For instance answering questions or replying to an email, exchange of opinions, information, feelings and emotions that hopefully result in better understanding with the tribe's members. The demographics of the tribe and their niche influence how these processes occur.

Interactions can be between tribes , content creators, readers, colleagues, friends and sometimes strangers that may result in action being taken by one or more of the tribes.

The final result of all of this tribal interaction is that social media services take time to do and engage with. There's a lot of opportunity here as well as the risk of wasting time. An example of this , as expected by readers of the platform you're using, is to be authentic and personable. This means you have to write thoughtful answers yourself to blogs and articles.

In addition, when you are a member of a group or tribe on one of the platforms means that social media monitoring is a factor. This means you have to take part in the discussion and comment on on other tribes posts since this is part of the exchange. Lots of social media activities are aimed at being members of many groups, but this makes it hard to spend the time to contribute. In fact, we are not even sure if they have the time to read what group members post.

What all this comes down to is that less is probably better. Tribes should join fewer groups , but stay more active  and more visible and interact with more substance. The number of friends you have online is really limited to about 150. This limit is called the Dunbar number and theoretically is the number of actual cognitive friends you can handle.

Some of the platforms have recently reported that even though you may have thousands of friends online , in reality, you can only interact with about five to ten percent of them. So you may ask, can you really have 2000 friends?

I welcome comments to this article as the social media services arena is still changing and we like to roll with the punches , so to speak.



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