Traditional media’s days as the main source of information are numbered. Giants like newspapers, television and radio are taking a back seat to the onset of social media as the most popular way we interact and discuss the subjects that are important to us. Web 2.0 and the read/write web has made it easy for everyone to share and discuss opinions, find new information and discover those with similar ideas and interests. Without adapting and evolving, old media will find themselves playing catch-up or worse, branded insignificant and out of date. Of course the progressive outlets are embracing this shift in the fundamentals and using it to their advantage. Major newspapers, radio stations and television networks now have significant online presences and encourage the interaction that is driving our daily lives. But they find themselves in competition like never before. As social media grows, more options are available to users every day, forming a whole new basis for every aspect of how we get and share information.
With the advent of social networking and social bookmarking sites, users now have the unique ability to make connections with others they would have never had the opportunity to meet. They can share interests, recommendations, and pretty much anything else online or off. Almost seamlessly, social media has integrated into our everyday lives and continues to reshape our online experience. With that, advertising and marketing campaigns have had to adapt to encompass this popular medium. Take a look at some of these common online activities and see how often you use social media:
- Ever sent or received an email? That’s the earliest form of social media.
- Ever read reviews on a product from other consumers? Or written one yourself? That’s one of the most popular social media functions.
- Have a MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn or other networking profile? You’re participating in the largest social connection experiment ever.
- Ever shared a website, story, picture or video you found online with a someone else? That’s social bookmarking in it’s simplest form.
- Ever read an online newspaper or magazine? Major news, tv stations or opinion sites? Chances are these popular sites are in the form of blogs; frequently updated content in chronological order, with reader interaction.
There’s many more examples of how social media has taken a foothold in our daily lives, but these are some widely adopted instances. As a prime example of how social media can affect everyone and our culture, you only need to look as far as the current presidential race. The presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, has implemented a massive social media campaign online to mobilize his supporters and garner donations. This incorporated not only building profiles on almost every social networking site online and managing those connections, but also developing an integrated social media community on his website. This allows the candidate to openly communicate back and forth with his constituents, they can interact with each other, create blogs, start fundraising campaigns and more. This approach has yielded staggering results in both raising money for the campaign and connecting with more potential voters and organizers. Chris Hughes, a 24 year old co-founder of Facebook, helped develop this strategy for Obama, and more details of the campaign can be found at this Seattle Times article.
Social media is on its way to being the foundation for all online communication and collaboration. Traditional media has taken notice and is scrambling to keep up. Every day, our lives are connected more and more and we’ll continue to reach out to new people, information and applications. Social media advertising has also become a fundamental aspect to an effective online marketing campaign because of social media’s popularity, and will continue to grow. If we’ve come this far in just a few short years online, imagine where we’ll be after the next few.