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Welcome to part two of our look at the socialisation of media and the movement away from traditional formats. Click on the following link for part one of Changing Media Landscape: The Rise of Social Media.
In the last few weeks alone we have continued to see just how social media is becoming a source of real-time news and interactivity. Politics have stirred up a number of stories, from the MPs expenses scandal to the humbling election defeats for Labour – particularly at the hands of the BNP. Earlier in the week a story emerged from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which revealed that politician Mir-Hossein Mousavi was using Facebook and other social media sites to communicate with young voters.
This has garnered him huge favour among a disenchanted society, and could well provide the tipping balance in a general election, for which voting begins today.
Just five years ago such interaction would have been impossible. But this is by no means an isolated case. On a domestic scale, politicians have been canvassing hard for votes and apologising endlessly using the latest (at least in terms of recent growth) social media tool – Twitter. Tweetminster, a site dedicated to multi-party MPs who use Twitter has been overflowing with gushing praise for successful colleagues and promoting local issues; all the while avoiding any really controversial talking points, which of course aren’t hard to come by currently.
But what works for politics, can also work for business. Just as everybody had to have a website at the turn of the millennium, so it appears most need to have a social media presence. It’s an open source for anybody to communicate with one another, whether their intentions are purely to inform or to reap financial benefits.
With great power comes great responsibility though. Information is passed across the Internet in a matter of seconds thanks to the real-time nature of contemporary social media. A faux pas that could once be buried due to a lack of proliferation in the traditional media, might hang around a little longer online.
As we reported earlier last week in a post about Social Media in the workplace, these sites can be as much a power for good as they are for bad. Harnessing its potential can see you achieve an unmitigated online presence that can give real prominence to any brand. But as with any industry, the bigger you become the more open to criticism you become. This means that you don’t just need a strategy to reach the top, but also one to maintain that position untarnished.
As one of the superpowers of the Internet, Google often find themselves the recipients of some far-reaching criticism. Invariably with a global product like their search engine, there will be dissenters dotted around the four corners of the earth ready to put the boot in. To counteract this, or at least to appease some of the more vocal/influential groups, they’ve developed a WebSpam team.
Headed up by Matt Cutts, this team is designed to fill the Internet with news about Google’s latest products as well as fend off criticism. Whilst Google have a huge social media presence, it is this team and their figurehead, Mr Cutts, who are the online moderators ensuring that the company has a positive voice at all times.
Of course smaller companies aren’t going to require this kind of vocal safeguard; however it does go some way to highlight just how important social media has become, and how archaic conventional media is becoming.
The interactivity of television has improved in recent years; particularly with the advent of digital formats and the proliferation of services such as Sky+. Unfortunately though, there is an inherent tiredness to the medium that cannot be rectified, best highlighted by the continued slide in advertising revenue for commercial channels. Society has shifted towards social communications and on-demand services, something that has been perfectly highlighted by the emergence of BBC’s iPlayer.
Hulu (to be released in the UK in September) provides a glimpse of what television may become in the future. It is just one of many sites that offers you to opportunity to get your favourite shows straight to your computer. This can only be seen as another step towards a complete transition from one medium to another, and the ultimate socialisation of media.
Traditional media sources, by which I mean the printed press, television and radio, still have a place in society; but the evolution seems to be in motion. However, as a transitional medium, dedicating all of your resources to gaining a Twitter presence or similar remains unadvisable. It should be a part of any marketing strategy, few would argue with that, however it shouldn’t BE the strategy.
These are changeable times, and as such it is only right that the media’s role is re-evaluated. This is in no small part due to the influence of its social cousin and the growing movement towards the Internet. It’s a shift that has been bubbling under the surface for some time. If and when it finally happens, all media will finally become social by demand.
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