beingspolitsocialSocial media differs from the traditional mass media primarily due to interactions it is based on and making use of communication tools (text, image, audio or video) to share information. Moreover, there is no gap between the sender and receiver, because the receiver has it in his hand to be the transmitter as well. The user can create his own content, which has brought up the term user-generated content.


Jan Schmidt, a research consultant on digital interactive media and political communication at the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research, identified three facets of how the social web is used:

  1. Information management: Information resources that are available online can be found, evaluated and managed.
  2. Identity management: The user can represent different aspects of himself on the Internet.
  3. Relationship management: Contacts can be represented, maintained and re-established.

For sure, you will come across these three basic requirements everywhere in the social web, in every application. Taking that into account, you will notice that although they are all distinctively different, all are always represented.

Let’s not forget to mention that the technology of the Web 2.0 is developing rapidly and dozens of new applications are added on a daily basis. This dazzling diversity also shows the Conversation Prism by Brian Solis, author of numerous books on digital business and communications strategies and since 2011 Business analyst at Altimeter Group. 

The graph shows the social media landscape with all relevant conversation channels. If you study this illustration for the first time, you will be equally impressed as well as overwhelmed by the dimension. However, do not slip up to rush first to the tools, instead, study the center first which shows where PR on the Social Web begins.

We are tempted to restrict our attention to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Wikipedia and Google+, and perhaps even blogs, which means the mainstream platforms. Although there are many other services that may fulfill the purpose, better or at least complement the appearances in the mainstream media in an excellent way.

That is exactly what the chart wants to show, allowing us to sneak a peek into the bandwidth, the diversity of applications and the variety of social media (of course it can always be only a snapshot). People communicating in many places on the web with image, text and sound, when publishing, discussing, searching, collecting and sharing content about themselves, products and services, or companies.

Let us look exemplarily at the most important media categories of some of the already mentioned social networks:

  • Social bookmarks are platforms where links are stored by multiple users on a shared and tagged server on the Internet or Intranet. Interesting are, for instance, or
  • Media sharing allows the exchange of images (such as on Flickr or Picasa) or presentations and white papers (for instance on SlideShare or Scribd).
  • Cooperation in everyday work are made easier with Dropbox for sharing documents, Skype for calls over the Web, or Google+ with circles and hangouts for cooperation in groups, among other applications.
  • Forums are virtual places for exchange and archiving of thoughts, opinions and experiences. Whether talking about movies, games or TV - there is hardly a subject, on which you cannot find forums, for example via Google search.

Moreover, how do you find out where you should be actively involved? First by listening and watching. Listening means building up social media monitoring. In addition, keep in mind that conversations are increasingly distributed across different platforms, meaning that you must set it up across multiple channels.

By Daniela La Marca