Too many people only hear the “media” part of the “social media” world. That’s a problem because Social Media needs to be approached in a totally different way than “traditional” media. But, marketers’ primary objectives haven’t changed much since the advent of mass media – reach as many people as you can as cost effectively as possible. So, it’s little wonder that so many companies jump on social media as a “free” way to push their message at consumers.
Traditional media has a passive audience. But in the social world, there is no audience; there are simply people talking to each other. It is inherently active, and when the topic of conversation among people is brands, it gives consumers control of what the brands are about.
This lack of control makes “getting your message out” in social media an inherently flawed notion. Similarly, “counting eyeballs” that have seen a message in social media and trying to equate that with views in traditional media is a generally futile exercise.
Putting the emphasis on the word “social” means focusing instead on the nature of the brand conversations taking place and how to influence (not control) them.
While it’s unlikely we can change what we call Social Media, perhaps we at least change how we view it. If we can liberate ourselves from the “media mindset” and adopt a more “social mindset,” we will then be able to make significant progress in understanding how to engage, how to take part in the brand conversations going on around us, and how to build relationships in this new world.