Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Media Means What?

Social Media Means What?

There is a multitude of conversations taking place around how to define the term Social Media and as with most buzz words; different people will attach different meanings and value to social media. This is the “not so popular” definition in Wikipedia today, “Social media is information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content. It's a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form relationships for personal and business. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”

In my opinion 'Media' is content. Content can be text, audio, visual, drawings etc; and these forms of content can come to us either through, TV, radio, newspapers or it can also come to us from tools like Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube, wikis and blogs. These may each equate to different forms of media, such as newspaper is print media, web content is digital media. But at the end of the day these all fall under the umbrella of “Media”. Media is the vehicle we use to send out information to interested users.

When we attach the term social to media it introduces the personal aspect of interaction to that content. In my mind, content is really just data. Until we apply rich context around that content, either via relationships with people or things, then can the content become more meaningful and equate to knowledge as opposed to just data.

When I speak with people about what it means to make use of social media, particularly in the enterprise space, I like to describe this as having the ability to “socialize” your content. To me that is the value of bringing social media to the work place. As a friend of mine Brian MacLeod says, “Social media has the ability to turn tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.”
I think it makes sense to define social media as a tool set that provides individuals the ability to personalize content creation, the ability to “socialize” content.
Something that we need to keep in mind is that social media is more than just another form of media; it also speaks to something more fundamental in nature, having the ability to socialize our content demonstrates a culture shift in how we interact with other, particularly in the Enterprise. Social media and this organic growth of new media formats that are growing from the ground up also represents a shift in how we do business. It speaks to the “power of we”, and the “wisdom of the crowds”. It represents a change in how people are discovering, collaborating and sharing content.