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New Media is not Social Media


Oops I have no time to blog today. So it’s lists all the way…
Web 1.0 is not Social Media
– A pretty Brochure site
– Products, Service, Support, Press Centre, About Us, Contact,
– interactivity meant point and click, print, submit form, fill in a poll
– host provides content, user views content

New Media, Interactive Media, Digital Media are not Social Media
– Pretty game and clickety-click sites
– puzzles, play videos, be guided through the site by flash navigation
– macromedia games and toys to play with
– host provides the content, user clicks through the content

Only Social Media is Social Media
– upload, download, mashup, rate, rank, comment of user content.
– user uploads images, video, sound or text. Or all.
– user communicates with other users
– user communicates with host
– host communicates with user
– host and users all communicate together
– user tells other users about stuff on the site and elsewhere
– user takes the stuff to other sites and then links back to host

New Media and Digital media experts worry about how snazzy the digital content is, and if it’s cool, and if the in house team provided compelling enough content. Interactive media experts worry about if it’s interactive enough – enough clickety clicks and cool whizzbangs to be sticky and viral.

Social Media experts don’t worry about nuffin’ – they are too busy chatting, playing, arguing, discussing, debating, refining, laughing with the members to worry about if the host is providing compelling, deep, or interactive content. At least I am. Heh.

Don’t worry about the content, provide the spaces.

ye olde blog post

Myth #1 – Compelling content…

… is the same as a content rich site. Not so.

A content rich site is where you put up fotos and videos, information packs, games, forums, blogs, personalities, favourites, interviews with blah blah, breaking news, advertisements, competitions. And so on. And maybe it will work. And maybe it won’t and you’ll end up with a content rich digital graveyard. And if you followed the format of your competitor, chances are you both will end up with an over-priced, under-used portal. Only MySpace can be MySpace.

Compelling content can be an empty site, brand spanking new, a video server (empty), forums (empty) and lots of nice tools. But give it a subject heading that captures people’s imagination and they will come, running, even if it’s initially to post a “w00t! I got the first post!” message. The Dialogue is The Content. Create the infrastructure and the subject heading and your members will create the content. Too much probably. (more here from Feb last year)

It’s weird to quote myself sometimes. Especially a year or two on. The long tail of SilkCharm. *checks behind herself* Heh.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

19 thoughts on “New Media is not Social Media

  1. Great post Laurel!

    I often find myself talking with design & interactive specialists who can make a really pretty site, but don’t understand the power of connection enabled by the new web.

    I’ll be sharing this one.

  2. Further to this, not all social media is digital media. I’ve always defined social media as media created by anyone, not just traditional information gatekeepers. From that definition, Solidariti’s leaflets were social media, as were the photocopied fanzines of the 80s. What’s new is the architecture of participation, created by the falling cost of digital technologies. Just my two cents.

  3. @Paull Young thank you dear 🙂
    When I first used to tell people to leave their site blank, I would shake. It’s a scary thing to say. I hate forums populated with fake threads to make it look “popular” but it’s hard to sell the opposite. Thankfully, the world is changing.

    @Steven Noble – when I see leaflets or school newsletters or gym timetables with hints and tips, I get out a notebook, bite my pen and sit down to plan out an online community. Does that make me weird? o.O And yes, you are right, we’ve had social media since the first naughty egyptian did graffiti on the pyramid walls – remember back then Steven? 😛

  4. Ok, now I don’t know what I am. I do all of the above.

    I am confused now.. might go and cry for a while.

  5. @bruce *hugs* don’t cry. 😛
    You didn’t create a social network and populate it with tonnes of clickety content. You and your mates created a popular podcast and an accidental community.

    A few geeks creating social media podcasts and using social media sites such as YouTube are perfect examples of what I’m describing as social media.

    If you were a ‘professional’ radio host who’s mainstream media company decided to create a “social network” and populated a website with tonnes of podcasts before going “live”, with the assumption that “if I build it, and put tonnes of stuff up, they will come” I would be worried… but you ain’t.

  6. New Media is about the technology – Social Media is about the conversation…

    My 2c worth anyway.

  7. @beatonl good point. The guy who makes interactive DVDs is new media. Unfortunately he’s also put in charge of social media stuff cos, y’know, it’s interactive and web and y’know, technical. heh.

  8. Ok, I feel better now.

    Thanks 🙂

    I will go with Social Interactive New Media Consultant with a twist of lemon and a taste for blood.

    Don’t know how I could fit that on a business card as still look fancy thou.

  9. Very helpful. I’m about to sit on a panel with a bunch of people talking about New Media – this will help me clarify why they need to understand it as distinct from social media.

  10. Hmmm… sounds so good when you say it like that. How do I write an assignment on designing a community? 🙂

    Talk about feelings alot I guess.

  11. Designing a community? Hmmmm waffle on about Purpose (values), Places (spaces or places to create), Profiles (id and trust), roles, leaders, events, rituals, subgroups, etiquette, and so on?

  12. Hey Laurel,

    really enjoyed the post. I agree with your idea of creating the space and not worrying too much about content, but surely the real solution is to invest in both.

    The architecture of the social space you create enables and disables certain types of conversations, so the design of the space is totally crucial.

    But depending on the way in which your chosen community (an odd idea, but one that marketers are trying to decipher – should they be?) converses with each other, you may need to invest in content to act as a social lubricant.

    The space is vital for making sure that an ongoing conversation can take place, but I think the content is the lure for encouraging people to drop by your site and start their own debates.

    The tone of voice of the site’s content can encourage and discourage sociable behaviour, so I think it remains important, although I agree that the space is perhaps the most important feature.

    What do you think?

    People have so much choice what to read and consume around the web, but I still go and check out the writing and thinking of selected content purveyors (Shirky, O’Reilly, Armano, Papworth etc) because it is genuinely valuable.

  13. @MM I’m a bit of a believer in the old adage of “Purpose Places Profiles” for social networks. Purpose – define values and subject matter and a reason for joining. Places -give tools for communication and creation and collaboration and things to try out. Profiles – start to build identity in preparation for building reputation leading to a trust quotient. With those three in place, a visitor may well become a jointer/resident/member with little more required.

    And don’t you just hate those faux threads in forums and flogs (fake blogs) such as “oh great forum, I love it here” *vomits*

    bTW I love MMORPG virtual worlds as opposed to social media virtual worlds – in other words, interactive content where I can be passive, not necessarily actively creating. So I’m not dissing interactivity, just asking ppl not to get it confused with social. 🙂

  14. Good points Laurel & MM, a friend of mine said “a community will be formed when there is more value to me if my friends are in the community”

    I’m coming from a marketing perspective and for marketers there are more than enough well build ‘hosts’ or communities to focus on creating relationships with individuals in communities and not on the technology.

    And social media consultants should exist

    It’s like saying you’re a Television Media consultant.
    http://from.simontsmall.com/2009/01/09/social-media-specialists-are-public-relations-consultants-20/

  15. I responded on your blog, but just wanted to add – by tools I meant being pedantic over ‘blog’. If one creates a webpage with no comments and no interactivity, we call it Web 1.0. But if we find out the backend is WordPress, does it magically become a blog and Web 2.0? No, the tool is a blogging platform but it’s form and function is not. Just wanted to clarify, I wasn’t talking about technology as talking about ‘coding’.

    …and I’m a social network strategist. Pre-2005 I was an online community consultant. In the ’90’s I was a virtual community expert. *shrugs* nuffin’s changed, just more of us now 😛 Titles schmitles.

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