What Media Are Social Media?
Harvard Business School's John Deighton, an expert on interactive marketing, presented on his research during the faculty's Research in Action day.
He framed the conversation around the question of what "are" social media? He asserts they must have the following characteristics:
- Ability to browse other profiles
By this definition many types of non-traditional media, such as interactive television, aren't "social media." Other technology-enabled social activities-conference calls-also fail to meet the test. Why? Social media are defined by public displays of connection.
While a blog is a public display of self, it's not a public display of connection. Even some media designed specifically to facilitate social interactions (like eHarmony) aren't truly social. You cannot browse the dating network of people on the site. Privacy is important to online daters.
Great, so now we have agreed upon an academic definition of social media. So what??
Here's what's interesting. Deighton predicts that this cluster of applications that feature truly bi-directional confirmed friendship status (LinkedIn, Facebook, Bebo, etc.) may subsume the entire space of the Web. These applications replace advertisers' pressure with peer pressure. Look at the way, for instance, Obama mobilized voters to self-actualize. Social media accelerated a journey that normally takes decades—State Senator to President—into just four years.
How are social media accelerating your business? How are social media changing the way your customers make decisions?