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:
- Use Of Technology
- Identifying and providing valuable conversations
- Distribution of conversations to appropriate and relevant markets
- Methods and messages that create pull and engagement
- Building and sustaining an audience (relationships) of listeners
- 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?