How Social Media Differs from Traditional Media

by Rick Alcantara

The age of homogenized, corporate-directed, media-censored communication is fading. Social media is the new reality. It will not only change how you receive and send information, but also how you interact with friends, find a job, obtain resources and even manage your work.

Social media is not about popularity. It’s about engagement, permission and personalization.

It is inherently interactive, user-focused and user controlled. As a result, traditional media is losing the battle for eyes and ears.

Television viewership is shrinking, newspapers are folding and radio advertising is down. While these established platforms are looking to adopt social media to compliment their existing products, it may be too little too late.

Fundamentally, here is how social media differs from and outpaces traditional media:

1. Social media is permission-based. Traditional media is not.
2. Social media creates a dialogue. Traditional media typically generates monologues.
3. Social media is accessible to everyone. Traditional media employs gatekeepers to ensure the the quality and integrity of the product.
4. Social media is immediate. Traditional media typically has a time lag of hours, days, weeks or months between creation and delivery.
5. Social media is low-cost or no cost. Traditional media requires heavy investment in equipment, staff and other overhead.
6. Social media requires minimal training. Traditional media requires specialized skills.
7. Social media is fluid. It can easily be amended or commented upon. Traditional media is essentially permanent.
8. Social media involves many communicating with many. Traditional media is one communicating to many.

Do these profound differences spell the end of most traditional media? Only time will tell. Just check Twitter for the obits.

Rick Alcantara is founder and principal of Tara Communications LLC, a strategic public relations, marketing and Internet firm that helps organizations plan, implement and measure their communications. To learn more, visit www.tarapr.com. To follow Rick on Twitter, link to @jerseycoach.

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