Industrial Media vs Social Media

media-kellyshibariOr, in layman’s terms, “The Difference Between Old Media and New Media.”

Old media is, well, what we’ve become used to – newspapers, television, radio, and film. Old media is financially really really expensive – there are publishing costs, delivery costs, production costs, and it usually takes a lot of people in a building. It also requires a fair amount of legal red tape – the FCC, licensing, etc. Old media, or industrial media, is often referred to as “traditional”, “broadcast”, or “mass” media…which is actually a misnomer nowadays because the Internet just reaches more people overall faster than “mass media” ever could.

Social media not only is cheaper to produce, it’s something that anyone can do with a computer. When you Tweet about your day, you’re participating in social media. It’s not just about watching a television about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai – it’s reading about how people are reacting to that sort of news. It’s hearing about new products and innovations before it ever shows up on daytime TV, because the company can post about it in their blog, have numerous people post about their reviews on the product, and have some kid post a YouTube video about it way before a writer can write copy, get it approved, and hire a production team to put together the news story…you see what I mean.

More than a few old media outlets know this – which is why most TV and radio stations now have websites as well. I wish that they could catch up a little sooner though – I’m getting tired of hearing about what happened on YouTube or Twitter hours if not days after it already happened, as if it were breaking news…we’ve already seen it, Tweeted about it, blogged about it, discussed its merits and problems, and moved on by that time. I guess old media is good for…well, I hate to say it, but old people. People who are retired and have the time to sit in front of the TV to get their news. By the time Oprah has named her favorite things and given them to her audience members on her show, most of us have already heard about the product and found something better.

Wikipedia describes some of the main similarities and differences between industrial media and social media:

  1. Reach – both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and enable anyone to reach a global audience.
  2. Accessibility – the means of production for industrial media are typically exclusively controlled by for-profit enterprises; social media tools are generally available to anyone at little or no cost.
  3. Usability — industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Most social media simplify those processes, or in some cases reinvent them, so anyone can operate the means of production.
  4. Recency — the time lag between communications produced by industrial media is relatively long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses; only the participants determine any delay in response).

Ben Parr’s blog post about defining social media phrases it really well:

Social Media is the use of electronic and Internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with other human beings in more efficient ways.

So there you go. I think it’s a great medium for a society that moves way too fast these days – we just don’t really have the time any more to sit in front of the family TV set to see what’s on the news at 9. We want our information not just right this very moment, as it happens – but we want to share our comments on it as well. We may not be able to slow down and enjoy things like our parents used to do, but we definitely have a larger circle of colleagues and peers than we ever dreamed. It’s efficient, it’s cheap, and it’s definitely something worth using as we become a more global community.

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