When I started researching for this blog, one of the first questions I wanted answered was “who coined the term Social Media, and what exactly does it mean’?”
Ironically (or maybe not so much), there are multiple individuals taking credit for the phrase (although you’d think that since ‘nothing disappears on the internet’ it would be easy to find out who said it first… 🤔) While the debate continues, the question remains: What exactly do we mean when we are talking about Social Media?
Dictionary.com defines Social Media as the following: websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts
And Wikipedia.org defines Social Media as: ...interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks
In other words, Social Media involves multiple individuals sharing experiences, content, and information in order to create a positive, communal experience. Yet recent watercooler chats have our team debating the difference between Social Media as it is defined versus how it appears in practice today.
We concluded that what began as a virtual place where like-minded individuals commune holistically to share information, is today treated as a place for marketing and advertising to share brand content in the form of campaigns, click-throughs and commercials. In other words, Social Media has become 10% social and 90% media.
While Marketing and Advertising will always have its place online, it needs to rebrand and call itself what it really is: Digital Marketing and Online Advertising. Social Media should return to its roots in order to become what it was meant to be.
This is not to say that Social Media Online Communities have gone the way of the dodo - quite the opposite. Forums, Facebook Groups and other private spaces continue to build positive online communities through cultivation, engagement and genuine support with the help of specific organisations doing it right.
Non-Profits, Private Support groups and Health & Well-being communities have all found a great way to bridge the gap between engagement and community building while allowing marketing and advertising to co-exist as a part of the whole experience - Social, and Media.
The nature of this kind of organisation lends itself quite well to traditionally successful Online Communities.
Next post we will share our insights on how to create a truly successful, fully realised Social Media Community space - whether a forum or closed groups on channels such as Facebook (examples - those hosted by Prostate Cancer UK, National Deaf Children’s Society, Help for Heroes and the NSPCC) which any brand will be proud of. And, by engaging, sharing info and supporting your community, your organisation will reap the benefits.
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