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Which media are the social ones?

Social media is the new new thing. Seems like anything that brings together content, people, and the Internet should qualify. Exactly which media is social (and which is anti-social)? Any emerging concept is hard to pin down—social media is no exception. Lots of people are talking about it, but they don’t all agree on which Web techniques are social media, and which are not. If you laid all the experts end-to-end, they’d all point in different directions.

But that won’t stop me. You can think of social media marketing as any way to get attention for your message using people connected to the Internet. Here’s a quick way to categorize different types of social media:

  • Content-based. Some social sites are built around individual messages. YouTube and FlickR, for example, host videos and photos designed to be shared with others. Some companies are sharing product demonstration and other videos to get their message out. Other content-based social media sites don’t host the content-they link to it. Digg,, StumbleUpon (just bought by eBay), and other sites allow readers to bookmark certain content items to highlight them for others.
  • Personality-based. Social networking sites allow each member to create a profile description, which can then be linked to the profiles of friends or colleagues, forming a network. MySpace has gotten a lot of attention, but FaceBook and LinkedIn might be make more sense for marketers targeting adult market segments.
  • Interest-based. Topic-oriented sites (such as Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups) form communities around specific subjects on message boards and similar sites. Increasingly, specialized search sites allow category searches, such as Technorati’s search for blogs on a specific topic.
  • Fantasy-based. Some folks believe that the emerging virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are also social media. IBMPontiac, and other major companies are developing a presence in Second Life. Apple enthusiasts have set up rogue Apple stores.

Now that you see the different types of social media, don’t get too hung up on exact definitions. My list isn’t any more insightful than anyone else’s, and by the time you read this, an entirely new strain of social media may be emerging.

What is important, however, is paying attention, so that when a new kind of social media appears, you’ll recognize it and consider whether it could work for your marketing campaign.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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