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Again, What Is Social Media?

It seems that everyone is trying to define social media and how to measure it’s ROI.

I get asked “what is social media?” from every client I engage with. Everywhere on the net people are putting out video’s, presentations, white papers and even books putting their spin on defining social media.

Since all this social stuff is fairly new and evolving, definitions change as does people’s perception of what it is. After reading, hearing and watching everyone’s definition I thought about their perspectives and whether these perspectives effectively tell the story. Having a simple mind I thought I’d try and condense the definitions down to something I hope is useful for everyone.

Social Media Is What?

When you break it all down “social media is communications”. Communications is nothing new accept now the power of communicating has exploded with the participation of hundreds of millions of people engaging in dialog one to one to millions.   If you haven’t noticed there are over 200 million blogs, millions of YouTube video, billions of tweets, millions of individuals connecting on social networks. What are all these people doing? Communicating!

How Are We Communicating?

Social technology has simply accelerated communications.  Before people and institutions relied on phones, email, television, radio,  marketing material and advertising to communicate. Now they all rely on this process called social media.  Social media is a communications process leveraged by technology. However the old process of communicating just shifted to a process that provides reach, richness, affinity and enriched collaboration  efforts.  By the way it is all instantaneous with no delays,  and it pulls people and entire markets into conversations  instantaneously. How are we communicating? Instantaneously!

Simply stated social media is a communication process that is revolutionizing everything tied to communication. Which by the way happens to be everything.

The process of social media involves:

  1. Use Of Technology
  2. Identifying and providing valuable conversations
  3. Distribution of conversations to appropriate and relevant markets
  4. Methods and messages that create pull and engagement
  5. Building and sustaining an audience (relationships) of listeners
  6. Continually feeding the audience with conversational currency; value they can use

Making Money From Communication

Besides everyone trying to define “social media” it seems that everyone wants a formula to define its ROI.  The simple answer to ROI is a question. Can you create any kind of return on anything without communicating? The answer is NO. Thus the way you get an ROI from social media is to learn how to communicate more effectively, efficiently, relationally and in human not advertising or marketing terms.

Before you ask about what social media is or what is the ROI  ask yourself how have you measured the value of communications previously. Your answer is likely “we never have been able to“.

The difference today is now you can measure the efficiency and effectiveness of communications down to whom, what, when and its value moment by moment.  Communications is the essence of any economy. Like a bank, the higher the rate of interest the more currency we create from our conversations. However this currency is driven by the relevancy of our conversations and the use of said conversations by the market of people communicating.

This currency is like money in that if your conversations create a rate of interest you are earning value created by the interest from people. The value created begins with a relationship with the market of interest.  The market of interest is people whom have an affinity and interest in your conversation. Converting conversations to money is the end result of effectively and efficiently managing the process of communicating value to an audience. Get it?

What say you? Does this definition work for you?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • eric dub 09/17/2009, 2:47 am

    RT @JDeragon Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/kolXp

  • iFood blog 09/17/2009, 2:47 am

    RT @JDeragon Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy…… http://bit.ly/kolXp

  • Jeff Molander 09/09/2009, 7:40 am

    Jay — I get it but it’s not making much sense to me.

    “This currency is like money in that if your conversations create a rate of interest you are earning value created by the interest from people.”

    Conversation is like currency — in that we can use it to measure value. Ok so far.

    “The value created begins with a relationship with the market of interest. The market of interest is people whom have an affinity and interest in your conversation.”

    Value is created.

    “Converting conversations to money is the end result of effectively and efficiently managing the process of communicating value to an audience. Get it?”

    No because the conversations are money. They’re currency. Ok, they’re “currency” of conversational value that aren’t worth money yet. Converting the currency (the valuable conversations marketers have with customers) to money requires managing the process of communications.

    Forgive me but if anyone reading this blog doesn’t “get” that — and they’re in marketing — then we’re in big trouble.

    Jay, I’m really criticizing what I consider to be a lot of fanciful playing around with words — more than anything else. Because after all who could possibly disagree with managing conversations to extract financial value? You start out saying that this is nothing new beyond acceleration of communications… and conclude by saying:

    “The difference today is now you can measure the efficiency and effectiveness of communications down to whom, what, when and its value moment by moment.”

    Ah, yes. “The Revolution” again. At what point are we having a revolution and at what point are we just engaging in hyperbole — if there’s nothing new outside of ubiquity, instant-ness, etc.?

    As I see it none of us are able to, today, measure what you say we can measure — the value of whom, what, when — unless we revert BACK to what you mention directly (we never have been able to measure the value of communications).

    Advertising. “Branding” which involves educating guessing (at best) and outright lies (at worst) in terms of measuring value for marketers. NOW we can measure again — using faux measures or guesstimates.

  • Bruno Ribeiro 09/06/2009, 6:52 am

    Short and simple: Again, what is social media? "Social media is a communications process leveraged by technology" – http://bit.ly/17RbfW

  • brunoribeiro (Bruno Ribeiro) 09/06/2009, 6:54 am

    Twitter Comment


    Short and simple: Again, what is social media? “Social media is a communications process leveraged by technology” – [link to post]

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  • merce 09/05/2009, 4:04 pm

    Social media es comunicación (vía @fredzimny) http://bit.ly/c65mW

  • merce (merce) 09/05/2009, 4:08 pm

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    Social media es comunicación (vía @fredzimny) [link to post]

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  • fredzimny 09/05/2009, 2:27 pm

    Again, What Is Social Media?.: Post found at http://bit.ly/HQm6s

    Author: Jay Deragon
    .. http://bit.ly/fdpK5

  • remdotco 09/05/2009, 1:32 pm

    RT @hansidink: RT @socialtechno: Social Media: it’s not a revolution, it’s just communication http://is.gd/2Vkjf

  • remdotco (remdotco) 09/05/2009, 2:31 pm

    Twitter Comment


    RT @hansidink: RT @socialtechno: Social Media: it’s not a revolution, it’s just communication [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Hans Idink 09/05/2009, 1:05 pm

    RT @socialtechno: Social Media: it’s not a revolution, it’s just communication http://is.gd/2Vkjf

  • socialtechno (Gordon Rae) 09/05/2009, 1:31 pm

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    Social Media: it’s not a revolution, it’s just communication [link to post]

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  • hansidink (Hans Idink) 09/05/2009, 1:07 pm

    Twitter Comment


    RT @socialtechno: Social Media: it’s not a revolution, it’s just communication [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Gordon Rae 09/05/2009, 11:51 am

    Really then, social media is all communication. So it isn’t a revolution. It’s what people always did, but with slightly different tools.

    I don’t know why people want to know an ROI on communication, either. Communication suppports many different goals and purposes. If you talk to somebody and they buy your product, you haven’t “monetized their interest”, you’ve persuaded them to buy.

  • fredzimny 09/05/2009, 7:55 am

    Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy……: http://tinyurl.com/n8ykdq >It’s all about… http://ff.im/7HnJU

  • fredzimny (fredzimny) 09/05/2009, 7:58 am

    Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy……: [link to post] >It’s all about… http://ff.im/7HnJU

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • GKäfer 09/05/2009, 2:25 am

    Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy……: http://tinyurl.com/n8ykdq >It's all about communication #e20 #yam #fb #refbt

  • b3buy (Business 3.0 Corp.) 09/05/2009, 2:31 am

    Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media? [link to post] It seems that everyone is trying to define social media and how to measure it’s ROI.

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  • GKaefer (GKäfer) 09/05/2009, 2:28 am

    Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy……: [link to post] >It’s all about communication #e20 #yam #fb #refbt

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  • Tweet_Leasing (Aron Stevenson) 09/05/2009, 1:50 am

    Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media? by @jderagon – The Relationship Economy…… [link to post] #socialmedia

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  • Ideafood (Dan Wallace) 09/04/2009, 4:33 pm

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    Again, What Is Social Media? Good post. [link to post] (via @simonmainwaring)

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  • Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media? Good post. [link to post]

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  • iJimCoyle (Jim Coyle) 09/04/2009, 4:04 pm

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    RT @Ideafood: Again, What Is Social Media? Good post. [link to post] (via @simonmainwaring)

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  • Twitter Comment


    RT @JDeragon Again, What Is Social Media? | The Relationship Economy…… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Elizabeth 09/03/2009, 1:29 pm

    This is a great overall look at social media. ROI is a little more difficult to come up with though because not all of the benefits of social media can be monetized. Can you place dollar signs on relationships or brand loyalty? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be very accurate.

  • BrianCitizen (Brian C. Citizen) 09/03/2009, 9:34 am

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    Daily Deragon Dose: Again, What Is Social Media? [link to post]

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  • SocialMnews (SocialMedia Eqentia) 09/03/2009, 7:28 am

    Twitter Comment


    Again, What Is Social Media?: Source: The Relationship Economy [link to post]

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  • Allen Howell 09/03/2009, 5:55 am

    Jay – this is the clearest and most concise explanation (defintion) I have seen for “Social Media”. I will forward it on to all my colleagues who are scratching their heads wondering what we are dong and why all the buzz.

  • JDeragon (JDeragon) 09/03/2009, 5:39 am

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    Again, What Is Social Media?: Before you ask about what social media is or what is the ROI ask yourself how have.. [link to post]

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