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One obvious way social media is different

July 22, 2008

In my opinion, the number one difference between social media, and traditional media are the filters.

Or, more specifically, the lack thereof. Here’s what I mean by filtered media:

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February...Image via Wikipedia

TV. Newspaper. Magazine. Radio.

These mediums are filtered by people called editors and producers. They edit/cut the content to make it more appealing to the audience. Above them, people filter the content on a larger level, determining what goes into the content. A Network TV exec picks the lineup for Thursday night. A editor in chief picks the content that will appear on the pages.

And this works well for advertising agencies. They simply purchase space in these media, then spend energy marketing to people on them. Advertising not only subsidizes this filtered content, it encourages the filter because it’s important to advertise on ‘good’ shows, and in newspapers that have ‘good stories’ that are read. Mass mediums need mass. And filters are tools for attracting mass audiences.

The Internet sort of changed things, and then social media finished the job through the destruction of filters, and the places defined by them. Because social media occurs in spaces defined by the users.

There is no filter in the blogosphere (no one picked the topic I’m writing about for me). There is no real filter in Facebook or Twitter or any of the social media. Even YouTube lets the masses pick what goes on the front page.

This brings up the obvious question of control. In traditional media, one can control the message because the space is defined. In social media, the message is out of the control (to a certain extent) of the marketer.

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