How is Social Media Different from Other Media

Social Media Network and the different channels have caught on the fancy of young and adults alike and this phenomenon has spread all over the globe. Every minute there are thousands of people logging into the internet and engaging in conversation using one or the other channels of online communication. Similarly there are millions of users of social media network in one form or the other. To a marketing professional or company, this can only mean one thing, that even if half of them were to be interested in their product, they have a huge business opportunity on hand.

It is often seen that more than sixty percent of the individuals are engaging in conversation about one or the other product, service and sharing their knowledge as well as experience. Thus the collective opinion or the word of mouth publicity and opinion generated has such dynamic potential that no Company can afford to ignore. Whether a Company wishes to or not, they have no option but to be present and participate in the Social Media Network today.

For Management students and Marketing professions, it is very essential to understand all about this medium in detail. Understanding of the evolution of Social Media Network as it is today is essential for it gives one an in-depth understanding of media effect as well as consumer behavior.

Internet began to become popular in the 1980s when computers began to become affordable and the penetration of computers into homes and personal use as well as business use began to increase exponentially. Advancement of technology gave way to higher bandwidth and speed in internet leading to broadband and Wi-Fi connections. Before internet became popular, it was the normal habit of individuals across the world to be glued to TV and reading Newspapers. Marketing and media industry had been used to targeting audience and designing campaigns as well as advertisements for print media and using the commercial break slots in the TV programs for airing their advertisements. At this stage the audience though they did not like it, had no choice but to watch the advertisements for they were not in control of the medium.

With the advent of internet and introduction of emails, the meaning of communication and advertising changed all together. When some of the people from internet industry experimented using commercial content in emails, they realized that they had a huge opportunity on hand. At the click of a button, and in a inexpensive way they could now access and target millions of audience by sending advertisements and marketing communication through emails. Quickly this trend in the industry caught on and resulted in a new industry running spam mails.

Though the individuals did not have any control over the TV advertisements, the spam mails was not something that they enjoyed receiving, especially because it was unsolicited and secondly it was directed to them in person and dropping into their personal inbox without their permission. A public outcry and sustained reservation against spamming resulted in the birth of anti spamming tools, programs and companies specializing in anti spamming lawsuits.

Parallel to the email spamming we also witnessed the birth of online advertising on the websites which did not intrude upon any individual’s privacy by sending unsolicited emails but provided advertising banners and tags on which one could click and get directed to the particular website of the company selling the product etc. There have been several developments in online advertising on the internet.

The development of Social Media Network at this juncture has been a very positive and welcome change that has been accepted widely by the users across the globe. This has become popular simply because the control over the discussions and content remains essentially with the users and not the company’s advertising or participating. Secondly the discussions take place in the form of simple conversations and collective participation of people by choice. Everyone is able to express their opinions.

The fact that Social Media is participative and the power lies with the audience and not with the advertisers or the marketing companies is something that the marketing professionals have got to understand, for such an understanding will give them the direction for building their online marketing as well as online advertising strategy besides guiding them on how to participate and influence the audience on the Social Web.

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