Social Media is the catch phrase for 2009, with twitter making headlines on a daily basis but should it still be called social media? The interesting aspect with social media is that is doesn’t typically follow a product lifecycle as early adapters are also still relatively new to the scene.

So we can look at social media the same way internet marketing started. First it was just called internet marketing and that meant everything and anything to do with your website.  As the market progressed it moved to be referred to as online marketing before progressing into web marketing or emarketing.  These terms stayed popular for a number of years where “e” was added to the start of any business or product to signify it was electronic.

The problem was that this was still broad for consumers to understand and was not longer considered cool by marketing agencies.  So marketing companies split the marketing terms into further specialised terms search marketing & email marketing. The problem the term search marketing was that it did clearly show a difference between paid and free traffic.

So with business still struggling to explain to consumers between paid “Google AdWords” and organic “search results” it seems they have started a new branding process with social media before anyone has defined what it actually is.

What is amazing about social media is the huge growth over the past 12 months, with twitter exceeding 200 million accounts, exceeding 1400% growth this year and exceeding 14 million accounts.  The chart shows the rapid increase of people searching trying to find out what is social media.

Social media is a blanket term that is now being applied to social networking sites, such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter and all the software and applications that work with them. While the social element of the terms indicates that it is actually consumer created content that is usually made public. While people may disagree with this definition, websites such as don’t stress around what is social media.  They understand what this market wants and they present the flood of social information in a dynamic site containing news, tips and so much more.

Taking the idea of old media, much of Mashable’s information is broken down into around 27 news channels.  Stretching the concept of friends’ groups they have around 40 lists on various topics relevant to their visitors.  So this successful site uses dozens of social networking tools, applications and their thousands of fans/supports to feed out relevant stories.  They have built their site around what is popular and as with anything social media, their readers have a greater level of control over what they read.

This seems to show the emergence of social marketing, or using social networks to promote news, products and engage directly with consumers.  Where social media appears to be moving ahead of internet marketing is that there is less time spent trying to fit particular tasks into boxes.  While companies need to be careful and take time to consider their social media campaign, there is still not a set breakdown of what it actually involves.

The other interesting element is the fact that the most popular terms seem to revolve around “social marketing” or “social media marketing” which shows people’s interest in trying to make money from this new buzz word and associated activity.  As with many internet services, it seems that a number of typical outsourcing countries such as India and Pakistan are some of the biggest regional areas trying to find out more about social media.

The interesting thing is the massive levels of spam within the social networks, such as twitter, which revolve around Multi-level marketing “MLM” and pyramid schemes to get rich quick. The USA is the 4th biggest country showing interest in social media and also one of the largest within these social networks that looks to be involved in spam.

At 33i we understand how to run a quality social media campaign and our team will work to build quality not quantity.  If you are thinking social media speak with our agency as we can provide a complete campaign that will benefit your whole web strategy.

Image by David Berkowitz

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