ladyThe term “social media” provokes a continuum of reactions ranging from parents concerned about MySpace predators (rightly so) to Internet marketing folks invested in leveraging traffic with blog technology enabled online media rooms. It’s interesting to note that, while millions of people participate in sites like StumbleUpon, Wikipedia, FaceBook, Squidoo, Digg, Netscape, Furl, Reddit,, YouTube, Flickr, twitter, and myBlogLog, many informed Americans have never or barely interacted with social media enough to understand what the heck it is…or so they think.

Same As It Ever Was
In reality participating in an online social community is not very different from the physical human experience as we make our way though life. If you’ve ever recommended a restaurant to an associate, taken your kids to a local community center swimming pool, read a theater review, offered your opinion at a social gathering, or set up a buddy for a blind date you’re already a social media expert. The point of divergence is that online tools make the art of relationships easier.

While there is certainly a lot of misunderstanding out there regarding what social media is and how it works, corporate America (as evidenced by the deer-in-the-headlight look we sometimes see in new clients’ faces) has figured out that user generated media can blow the hell out of your Brand. Our children communicate and participate with their peers using modern online networking tools. More and more traditional “search” functions are moderated by user reviews and other input from humans.

Actually, nothing much has really changed. Though the tools social media bring to the festival of human interactions have streamlined the process and made global personal networking a reality, all social media sites share some or all of the following common attributes:

Voting on, sharing, and bookmarking content
Voting on, sharing, and bookmarking people
Searching for content
Searching for people
Making friends
Rejecting people
Gaining personal authority

This is no different than the physical world. We vote, share, bookmark, search, make friends, and gain authority in our physical lives every day. Rotary Club members elect leaders. Friends gossip about other friends and recommend music. We call each other on our cell phones and send text messages to our mother to say “hello I love you.”.

Finding Wings

That said what makes social media sites so alluring for many is that voting and bookmarking site mechinisms provide varying degrees of enticing anonymity and socially acceptable voyeurism. This can help folks get over inhibitions and amplify those who aren’t shy to begin with.

Whereas in life it’s not good behavior to lurk outside a prospective soulmates window and observe the content and people THEY bookmark and vote on, in some sites polite and respectful versions of this behavior is encouraged. It’s possible to be shy, deep, and become an authority figure on the strength of valuable content, commentary, friends, and insight you bring to an online community.

Social media is really a logical extension of the natural life we lead in the physical world. Ask any married couple who met on the Internet if social media tools are plastic or somehow less personal than the physical world and they’ll debunk your misperception in a hurry.

Interesting Social Media Links:
Smogger Social Media Blog

The Social Media Marketing Blog

SEOmoz | Social Media Marketing, eh? Let’s See What’s in Our Bag of Goodies.

Social Media: Social media adopted by big business

5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Graywolf’s SEO Blog

  • Cornwall SEO

    Interesting take on an interesting subject.

    I have talked about the gathering of social tribes using social media tools.

    It is fascinating to watch the online world mirror aspects of the real world disrupting old world media. Putting the power in the hands of the viewer, but not quite. Linkbaiters specialise in helping the viewer decide what they want to see and also what they want to link to.

    Kind of like how radio DJs would tell you what you wanted to listen to and what you wanted to buy.

    Society is changing right here, right now, and we are in the center of it.

    And it feels great

  • Marty Weintraub

    It’s so simple too. In early Internet days gone by, there were news groups, alt .this and news.that. Internet “news groups” were about people interacting with people, doing whatever people do best. Some Tech savvy early adopters used even used IRC (“Internet relay chat”) which was very similar to most messenger programs these days.

    Then when www rolled in companies got in the space doing what company’s do best-selling. Spam was born. Eve spam was a reflection of the physical world. It was in the form of CRAP which came in the mail…piles and piles of Paper crap…at least now they don’t kill trees.

    Web 2.0 is about people doing what people do AND companies doing what companies do all in one big global place…again, just like the physical world.

    We all do EXACTLY what people do WHATEVER tools are available. In prison elaborate tapping codes or the ways someone wears a collar speaks volumes amongst other community members.

    Social media communities are nothing new. The tools are just better with more sophisticated ways to filter and process possible friends or other.

  • Chris Cree

    Marty, I think you are spot on.

    So many folks are struggling to figure out the “mystery” that is social media. If folks would just remember that social media is, um, about people they’d have a much easier time figuring the whole thing out.

  • Marty Weintraub


  • Matt Keegan

    Social media growth is only in its infancy. I still meet plenty of people who have no clue as to what blogging is all about. I don’t think it is because they aren’t interested, rather they have yet to be introduced to this phenomenon.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Well said Matt. Thanks,