Thursday, December 4, 2008

What is the Social Media?

Following my recent discussion of 'Web 2.0', I thought it only appropriate to devote a post to the 'Social Media'. Frequently referenced within my blog, I felt that it was important that the distinctions between the terms social media and web 2.0 are acknowledged and understood. Although these are, on occasion, used as synonymous, I would challenge their definition thus. The terms, whilst similar, are not one and the same. That being said, one is arguably a direct corollary of the other. Let me explain.

Web 2.0 simply represents a social revolution; the power shift resulting from increasingly vocal demand for greater connectivity. As customers became increasingly dissatisfied with an inherently static Internet, change quickly became an imperative. One-way information flows illustrative of the more traditional communications channels were no longer viable as a means of engaging the customer. From the ashes of the static, uni-directional webpages of the early 1990's however, rose the new media platforms, more commonly referred to as the social media.

In my opinion, whilst web 2.0 represents a specific event; namely a shift in societal expectations, the social media represents the subsequent response of increasingly innovative web developers; a set of tools designed to satisfy increased demands for connectivity. These tools have essentially focused upon the development of community, offering users the capacity to connect with one another. Whilst the tools were developed primarily for the benefit of the community, many have since been adopted for marketing purposes; a fact which has on occasion detracted from the transparency of the engagement.

Whilst it is probable that the web 2.0 will be superseded by a web 3.0, it is unclear whether these changes will be representative of a societal or a technological shift. What is clear however, is that organisation's will have to stay on their toes to ensure that they are able to react promptly to anything the internet throws at them; clearly, business as usual is no longer viable.

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