What is social media? How does it differ from traditional media?

What is social media? How does it differ from traditional media?

In my humble opinion social media includes all media forms that differ from the traditional deliverables of traditional media houses (e.g. newsprint from newspapers, glossy print from magazines, over the air radio from radio stations, over the air TV from TV stations).

If that is so where do you place satellite radio and cable TV? Are they social media, because they are not in the group listed above?

They could be, but I would say not for the following reasons:

1. People associate cable TV as an extension of over the air TV. If people perceived cable TV as different, and cable had started in the last few years people's perceptions may be different. As such I would put cable TV in the traditional media bucket. The same with satellite radio. The relevant point is that it is not based on technology, but rather on how people perceive the technology.

So what is contained in the social media "bucket"? I would include email, chat, blogs, Internet radio, podcasts, mp3 type downloads, iTunes, webpages, smart phones to start. The point is all these media platforms are perceived as new not traditional.

To the average person they put things in simple boxes or as "buckets" as mentioned above. I believe our role as social media experts is to answer the following questions to laypeople:

a. what should I be doing in social media today, this month, this year?
b. what should I be doing in traditional media today, this month, this year?
c. Who can I trust for vendor, experts, and allies to max my ROI in social media?
d. Why does this seem so complicated, when the promise is that social media is so easy?

So I would ask these questions: what is social media? how is social media different than traditional media? what will social media and traditional media look like in a few years? Will we find any difference?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

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