Why make the effort to create social media?

Mass media focuses on promotion and creating a media experience that will attract the greatest audience. Social media focuses on building a community with an audience that has the greatest connection with not only the media, but also with the creators of that media and each other.

For many in mass media, efforts beyond mere marketing seem to be a waste of time. The connection of social media seems a waste of time and effort. Why worry about connecting with the audience when the goal is create the biggest audience for advertisers?

With so many media and entertainment choices, audiences have become less loyal. Channel surfing has become the norm, and mass audiences more difficult to deliver, just ask the music industry. In part, I think that people realise that they had become just ‘eyeballs for advertisers’ in the age of mass media. But somehow as mass media became disconnected from their audiences, they forgot some of the lessons of the past that well could point to the future and social media.

As Steve Yelvington says in remembering Mike Royko, the great Chicago columnist, and one of the only reasons that I read the Chicago Tribune:

Is Royko relevant in the 21st century? I think there’s much the aspiring blog-centric journalist can learn from the writings of Chicago’s voice of the people, the man who almost singlehandedly carried the old Chicago Daily News for years, the man who sold more newspapers than anyone who sat in any publisher’s office in the city of broad shoulders.

Today’s J-student should understand that the task is not to get a job and draw a paycheck, but rather to build a following. Learn from Royko.

Build a following and a community by breaking the fourth wall of the Fourth Estate. We need to reconnect to our audiences and our communities. In a must read post, Robert Patterson sums up how social tools like Twitter can not only help build this sense of community but also break some of the limitations of linear media like radio.

From this small beginning Laura talked to others and the “Diner” started to emerge. … The listener started to become part of the show – not in air – but with the crew. As they did stuff on air, they got not just feedback but stimulation and vice versa.
“Radio is a linear medium” Laura reminded me. “You have to listen to the end to get what we do. Twitter with its short form – enables us to introduce short cuts”. From my part it introduces the many to many while the one to many is still going. This I think is the future if Radio and TV. To wrap the Program with a society.

I think it is also the future of newspapers, which is really just a forgotten lesson of newspapers’ past. Build a following, a community, and you’ll build your business.

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