When we used to engage with media, it was a one way street. Show runners served us episodes. Journalists fed us the day’s news. We might have chatted about what we saw or read with a friend, coworker, or family member the next time we saw or called them, but that was the extent of the social aspect of the media we consumed. Now some media platforms are much more social in that they’re interactive and the audience takes an active role in creation and consumption.
I feel like there’s a societal desire to know everything. People might want to know the latest gossip, the current political happenings, or what their cousin in another state has been up to. Not only do we want to know, but we want to be able to offer our opinions. Social media allows us to do that, and more.
And as consumers get more savvy to marketing techniques, more and more are relying on word of mouth. Social media lets us easily find and share a favorite denim brand or a restaurant that should be avoided. It gives power to consumers. Through social media, consumers can engage directly with brands, leaders, etc. And if consumers aren’t getting what they need from traditional or existing options, social media allows them to create their own content and find a likeminded tribe.
And that’s why social media has grown the way it has and continues to grow. It has empowered people and changed the way we interact with everything around us.
It’s actually kind of amazing to think about all of the things social media has allowed us to do, no? Instead of calling and enduring a lengthy, catch-up phone call with your cousin, you’re never really out of touch because of their frequent social media updates. Upset about how your congressman or city councilman voted? Let them know in the comment section on their social media platforms, which are often monitored by a staffer. When I wanted to play a two-player video game when I was younger I’d have to wait for my sister or a friend to get home. Now, gamers can log on and play with someone on the other side of the globe.
What’s next? Personal holograms that we send out in the world to interact with other holograms?
I think social media is going to continue to get more niche in the future. Platforms might not have as many users as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but they’ll have a tight, highly engaged audience around a specific topic or interest. Current examples include Goodreads, ReverbNation, and other platforms included in the Nicheworking category in Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism.
Media has come a long way and has a long way to go. But I’d argue that making media social has made it more inclusive and valuable to our daily lives.