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When everything becomes social, what is "social media"?

iStock_000005140921XSmall.jpgWhat do you think of when I say the term "social media"? Do visions of Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, blogs and wikis dance through your head? If you do, I think you're selling yourself short. VERY short.

Social media is a fad. All media will be social.

For the past year, I have included a slide in my presentation decks that says "Social media is a fad. All media will be social". We're already seeing instances of this in mainstream media. Just look at the Facebook/CNN partnership for the inauguration. It nearly crippled business networks around the world as people chatted with their Facebook friends while watching broadcast TV online.

This is an experience that has been taking place through divergent platforms for more than a decade (IM + TV), but is now becoming integrated into a single user experience. Just open Twitter during prime time TV and see what dominates the conversation. It's people talking together around a common topic enabled by whatever show is on.

Current showed us another example of the integration of TV with social technology as it flowed in real-time messages from Twitter during broadcast. This is a clunky solution for now until cable platforms integrate these services into the broadcast or they focus more on online delivery of content.

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In-person events are even taking advantage of social technology to make the event even more engaging. Speakers (including myself) take questions on Twitter and engage people beyond the four walls of the room. Live streaming of video allows a global audience to participate in a local event.

Social technology is allowing radio broadcasts to expand their conversations as people engage online while listening or even while not listening. Smart stations are engaging with their audiences through multiple platforms. Each morning I listen to the BBC's Radio 1 on my drive to work. The Chris Moyles Show uses multiple platforms including Twitter, Facebook, email and SMS to engage the audience in real time. The hosts are savvy and the technology is simple and fast.

Mobile device experiences will become increasingly more social. You're seeing the start of this now with applications like Loopt and FourSquare, but you will see social interactions around news content via iPhone apps or any other platform that brings people together.

Does news become more relevant when discussed with my peer group? Absolutely. Once of the main problems with most social content is that the group of people commenting/creating are not relevant to my interests (see YouTube comments for example). If I can select who I have conversations with on certain topics, it's very valuable to me. I'm not saying we should censor people, but the technology allows for added relevance that we should be taking advantage of.

Even outdoor ads have started to become vaguely social. Mini Cooper took the lead on this a few years ago by using RFID technology to display custom messages to their customers as they drove by.


So, instead of taking a narrow, short-term view of "social media", we need to step back, look at all media and see what the social technology potential is and look at how to take advantage of that to deliver more relevant experiences.

How does this notion that all media will become social change your view of media? Is TV/radio dying? What about magazines? Do these have to be digital to be social?

Let's hear what you have to say!

Note: If you're interested in having me speak to your group or organization, check out my speaking page to get in touch with me.

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