Sociel Media

There are many definitions, so I’ll try to share some of the key characteristics that exist in so called “social media” sites and then give you some examples. Finally, I’ve included two definitions from social media sites. This is a work in progress.

Social media is … a way of using the Internet to instantly collaborate, share information, or have a conversation (about) ideas or causes (common interests) we care about. It’s a world where anyone can be a publisher, a reporter, an artist, a filmmaker, a photographer or pundit …. Even an activist or citizen philanthropist!” – Beth Kanter in presentation you can see here

The key characteristics of social media are:

  • – The ability to interact via comments. Someone writes a post or article and others add their comments at the bottom of the article.
  • – The ability to share the post or article (or video/audio/photo). A process is available to email the post, and/or bookmark it in sites like del.icio.us and posting to sites like Digg.com.
    • – The ability to both comment and share seem to be the most important aspects of making a site social.
  • – RSS feeds that allow for the sharing of information and republication of information
  • – the ability to share photos / images and multimedia like video and audio

Certainly there are other aspects to social media, depending upon who is trying to define it. But, those characteristics seem to be the most important.

“Social media” are generally regarded to be represented by the software and activities that allow sites, like the following, to engage people in discussions. These discussions are generally called “conversations” in the vernacular of social media practitioners – or believers/ evangelists.

Examples of the sites considered to be representative of social media are: YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites. Also in the “social media” realm are blogs, podcasts, video blogs and forums.

In 2005, one blogger – evhead, or Evan Williams – identified the Top 10 social media sites according to their Alexa traffic rankings (the rankings, 1 to 100, are in parentheses):

1. MySpace (8)
2. Blogger (16)
3. Xanga (20)
4. Hi5 (31)
5. Orkut (33)
6. Thefacebook (41)
7. Friendster (46)
8. Flickr (51)
9. LiveJournal (NA)
10. Photobucket (77)

Today, that Alexa lists stacks up as follows:

1. YouTube (4) – video sharing
2. MySpace (5) – personal blogs and video/photo sharing
3. Orkut (7) – connects people through a network of trusted friends
4. Blogger.com (10) – Google’s blog provider
5. Hi5 (12) – social networking with media sharing, affinity groups, and messaging
6. Rapidshare (13) – file sharing
7. Facebook (14) – connects people through a network of trusted friends
8. Friendster (16) – connects people through a network of trusted friends
9. Fotolog.com (17) – photo sharing
10. Flickr (24) – photo sharing

The reality is, social media / network characteristics are now evident in all of the Top 25 sites in the list. In fact, they are evident in almost all of the Top 100 – and beyond. So, as some have suggested, social network characteristics are becoming ubiquitous – appearing in all successful sites.

For the sake of a “social media news release” we are talking about a news release that is as follows:

  • Deconstructed. Not the usual written release, but a collection of bullet points, key facts, key quotes, and multimedia.
  • RSS feeds to keywords relating to the topic / subject of the release. Example: I send you a release about a product and include RSS feeds of stories that have already been written about that product or other products in that market segment.
  • Multimedia and photos. Ready to use photos and video that you may include in your print and online publications.

Visit this link for an example of a social media release, from Todd Defren:http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf

This link will take you to, essentially, the first social media release. It is about the release itself. There is debate, of course, about social media releases having existed for years – absent the RSS, commenting and sharing functions available today.

This link will take you to an article by the creator, Todd Defren, and a bit of an explanation about the social media release.

Also, this link will take you to the purpose built del.icio.us bookmarking site where you may read what others have said about the social media release. This is the type of purpose built page that could be included in the release you may receive in the future.

The social media release is usually delivered to you via an email. In the email is a brief description of the story and its relevance to you and your publication. There is then a link to the social media release which is a Web site containing the elements described in the template.

How deep has social media crept into public relations and marketing already? How about Coca-Cola. Also, visit the Coca-Cola social media news release used for the Second Life “Virtual Thirst” campaign. They also incorporated the following, according to Todd Defren: “YouTubeFlickrMySpaceSLdel.icio.us.”

Now, a couple of definitions:

Wikipedia’s definition of “social media” is very incomplete and lacks references.

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.

A few prominent examples of social media applications are Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Gather.com (social networking), YouTube (video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Digg (news sharing), Flickr (photo sharing) and Miniclip (game sharing). These sites typically use technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs to allow users to interact.

The blog “technology in translation” offers “a definition of social media

Social media describes a new set of internet tools that enable shared community experiences, both online and in person.

A community, in this context, is a group of people with common interests who connect with one another to learn, play, work, organize and socialize. Communities can be large or small, local or global. They can be public or restricted to members.

Social media allows people with basic computer skills to tell their stories using publishing tools such as blogs, video logs, photo sharing, podcasting (audio stories broadcast from the web or downloaded to a computer) and wikis (collaboratively edited web pages). They can also help us filter and organize the overwhelming amount of information on the web.

Social media tools make it easier to create and distribute content and discuss the things we care about.

More to come …