Smart transmitter in social media vs dumb receiver in mass media

social mesh“Total fans on Facebook” or “total followers on Twitter”, for example, are some of the key performance yardsticks, when it comes to social media. Numbers are good but really, brands are still thinking of social media as traditional mass media. In the mass media, size matters the most (hence, the word ‘mass’). In the crudest sense, brands should assume its audience as smart transmitter in the social media space. In mass media world, there’s only dumb receivers (most of the time).

In social web universe, you’re a smart transmitter:
– frictionless access to social technologies;
– social media designed for engagement;
– social media is more able to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time (rightcast);
– size does matter but influence matters more;
– delivers both reach (audience) and richness (interactivity and content richness).

In mass media, you’re a dumb receiver:
– mass media audience lack access to social technologies;
– designed for passive consumption, not active engagement.
– trying to deliver the one-size-fit-all message to many people at the same time (broadcast);
– size (audience) matters most;
– reach-richness trade-off.

Brand communication in mass media world is like a Ferris Wheel, where brand message originates from a center and broadcast to consumers.

Ferris Wheel of Mass Media

In the social media space, brand engages its mesh-like business web. Brand (blue circle in diagram below) joins the conversations to viralize its brand messages, leveraging its ecosystem of customers, evangelists and influencers (pink circles).

The Social Mesh

Image credits: Ferris Wheel sketch and mesh diagram.

In the Social Mesh, a brand connected to small army of influential evangelists is probably more effective than the brand connected to hundred of thousands of passive nonchalant followers/fans.

UPDATE: This post was selected for publication on SocialMediaToday.

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  1. Excellent article – I really like the analogy of the ferris wheel & social mesh. It’s an excellent way of explaining why more isn’t always better in social media. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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