Social media is big and getting bigger, and traditional media is trying to take advantage of it. This is hard: social media is all about things that old media isn’t (two way flows, sharing, person-to-person, etc). But the lesson lies as much in the attitude as in the technology.
A piece by Amy Gahran at Poynter draws my attention to a new study by a respected US research outfit on the growth of the area. “The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey.” Many of my friends who resisted joined up this year. Facebook and Linkedin are common. The Pew survey says personal use is more common than professional use (i.e. Facebook more than Linkedin) but that is, in my experience, shifting. (see this on social media demographics).
Ponyter also highlights a piece by Michele McLellan on the subject at Knight Digital Media. She points out that the focus on the social media itself or the web site if it comes to that misleading. “That’s a fallacy: It’s not the site, it’s the links, the connections and the network. It’s trial and error and trial again.”
“Print is fading and it won’t be replaced by a single medium or distribution mode. It’s important to think more broadly: One channel is no longer enough. One strategy is not enough.” Stuff needs to be findable and shareable and usable in lots of different ways and places. And stuff might be a headline, a piece, a site or some other unit of content: thinking of all content moving and staying together is also misplaced (or at least suboptimal).
What does this look like? Lots of media are doing it. A good example in the recent interview done by The Independent’s head of digital in the Guardian: “Independent.co.uk has been busy signing social media partnerships: last November it launched its Independent Minds blogging platform in partnership with LiveJournal; it now has its own YouTube channel and there are content deals with news betting site Hubdub and news aggregator Reddit. “If you can’t spend massive amounts on marketing you have to find other ways of doing it,” he says. “You have to go where the audience is rather than expecting them to come to us.”
Also worth considering: this interview by Rory O’Connor with Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg. “The concept of “the trusted referral” is integral to the success of content sharing on Facebook. We’ve found that it is tremendously more powerful to get a piece of content — an article, a news clip, a video, etc — from a friend, and it makes you much more likely to watch, read, and engage with the content.”