Social media has become part of the world as we know it. It is radically reshaping how we interact with one another across the globe at work, home and at play.

While social media is still relatively in its infancy, every indication suggests it will continue to blaze a trail for years to come.

To profit from this trend or, at the very least, to stay current, you need to develop your very own social media strategy and this can only start with a great in-depth appreciation of the new social media landscape.

You might want to do this by being an active user. Only by participating are you likely to fully appreciate that, at heart, social media is all about using various technologies to engage in interactive dialogues.

Old world versus new world

The list below will give you an idea of some of the major differences between old and new media.

Old media

New media



Predominantly centralised
Largely hierarchical
Incumbent-dominated
Send and receive mode
Unilateral point of view
Highly regulated marketplace
Usually paid for
Lags in interactivity
Permanent once published

 

Predominantly decentralised
Largely flat
Newcomer-dominated
Opt in and respond mode
Multilateral points of view
Highly unregulated marketplace
Usually freely available
No lag in interactivity
Editable even after publishing

Naturally, because the descriptions are generalisations, there will be some exceptions.

Having distinguished the difference between old and new media, it is important to keep in mind that as old media keeps evolving and starts adopting the traits associated with new media, the distinction over time will naturally fade.

This may not necessarily be bad for any of the parties concerned.

We are moving from a world in which people passively consumed media into a world in which we are both the Producers and consumers of media (that is, Prosumers).

Cable News Network (CNN ) was very quick to capitalise on this trend with its iReport feature.  

Many forms of new media

According to professors of marketing at ESCP Europe, Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, there are six different types of social media:

* Collaborative projects (Wikipedia and similar sites);

* Blogs and microblogs (WordPress and Twitter);

* Content communities (Yahoo and YouTube);

* Social networking sites (Facebook and Google+);

* Virtual game worlds (World Of Warcraft); and

* Virtual communities (Second Life and so on).

Increasingly, these six types of social media are integrating their value propositions in an attempt to provide their users with the most flexible platform possible.

The idea is to allow technology to promote social interaction for the co-creation and co-sharing of value.

This has been the clear trend in the evolving new media landscape, from the creation of ClassMates (1995) to SixDegrees (1997) to Friendster (2002) and MySpace (2003) to Facebook (2004) to Twitter (2006) to the latest Google+ (2011).

Rising trend

The adoption of social media is a rising trend. The number of global Facebook users has exceeded 750 million this year, according to Social Bakers.

Singapore is naturally part of this trend, ranking as the 49th biggest Facebook community worldwide with more than 2.5 million users in it, amounting to a more than 53 per cent local user rate.

Capitalise on this trend

The demand from people to be part of branded communities has grown.

Coca-Cola, Disney and Starbucks have respectively more than 32 million, 27 million and 24 million fans on their Facebook pages.

Studies have shown that people join branded communities to:

* associate with brands they have an affinity to;

* Support a cause;

* Get freebies;

* Gain advance news on things;

* Learn something new; and

* Have fun.

You may want your business to have a more significant new media presence to get customers, potential customers and stakeholders to:

* Think more positively about your brand;

* Interact more deeply with your brand;

* Gain loyalty;

* Promote it to others;

* Assist you to grow your value proposition; and

* Help you operate more profitably.

For your organisation to succeed in the world today, you need to understand your industry’s social landscape, identify how your target audience fits into it, figure out their social needs and ultimately map them to platforms that best deliver this.

Your social media success will depend on how well you unlock the human psyche and recognise its need to engage.

At the end of the day, “the new world of social media” is about human beings interacting with other human beings towards building a simultaneously diverse but increasingly homogeneous culture.