Social media: Defining a concept

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/04/24 · 5 comments 1 views

in z uncategorized

      Everybody talks about social media but do we understand what the concept means?
      What is social media measurement?
      Before you start measuring social media efforts, make sure you focus these efforts.
    Remember, doing a good job while building brand and reputation takes many more resources than you first might think.

Social media can be defined as follows:

    “Social media are online communications in which individuals shift fluidly and flexibly between the role of audience and author. To do this, they use social software that enables anyone without knowledge of coding, to post, comment on, share or mash up content and to form communities around shared interests.”

2008-04-08 What is social media? by Joseph Thornley

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We want to refine the above a bit and expand the definition in order to make it even more obvious what the term entails, namely:

    Social media take advantage of tools and techniques that facilitate participatory communication, whereby the user can move back and forth easily between audience and author.Software and tools used for social media efforts enables people with limited programming or technical skills to focus on participating, connecting and sharing information and insights with other people.

As the above indicates, social media includes corporate blogging and is quite new for many marketers. Hence it occupies a niche outside corporate public relations or PR.

What is it about?

Social media measurement may focus on velocity, engagement, conversation, participation, community or some combination. Nevertheless, it is difficult to put a euro and cent sticker on this.

What it comes down to is your your target group and how you intend to reach them. An investor relations blog is surely not the same as one for financial analysts on Wall Street. Neither can a Chief Executive’s blog focus on financial analysts and customers as well as employees. Nevertheless, all three groups may share an interest to hear about the new products that the corporation intends to bring to the marketplace within the next 6 months or so.

Naturally, customers want to know about the latest features that the product will offer and when it will be in stores. In contrast, analysts want to know how this will affect key financial indicators and retail shareholders focus on dividends. Nevertheless, all three stakeholder groups want to know about the firm’s product pipeline because it affects them all in one way or another. Hence, focusing on the product pipeline as part of your social media efforts might not be such a bad idea.

Is it worth the investment?

That all depends on what you wish to accomplish.

The question is if your executive can spare 5 hours a week or not. It might take her 2.5 hours to write a good post and another 2.5 hours to keep up with what is happening in social media (e.g., respond to the comments, watch the conversation and so on).

blogging takes time – more than you think

Hence, using social media for your corporation takes time and resources. Without a clear purpose, don’t even start. It is too costly if you are an SME (small and medium enterprise) unless you figured out what it will do for your bottom line. In turn, focus on the latter and it will most likely be worth every cent.


Andy Warhol is being attributed of having said that in future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. I think he was wrong. In future everybody will have a 15-minute webcast or a blog with 3-5 posts each week. But no one will want to watch or read it.

So make sure, if you put a webcast up or blog every week, make it worth the time and effort for your target audience to either watch the video clip or read your post. Failure here means you have wasted valuable resources, something you cannot afford.

As any risky venture, social media can result in failure if not a disaster but success means you are getting a huge payoff.

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  • Robert Weller

    I totally agree with your point no. 9. What happens to be a very short and consice headline in Englisch may be about twice as long to get to the point in German. Common headline hacks like the famous “How To” just don’t work that easy because it’s not the way Germans speak (or think). And if you start translating common English terms it’ll probably sound like plain vanilla advertising slogans. And who would read those?

    •*/*/*/CEO/top100 Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear Robert Weller thanks for your comment.

      Yes I agree, who would want to read badly translated material. It is very hard to get it right.
      I blog different posts for our English blog on vs our German one on
      I do this so I think and write in either language, translating is tough and means re-writing from scratch as you know very well. Different idioms, wording, punchlines etc. Probably why very good translators are hard to find?
      @toushenne:twitter Thanks again for this comment and I wonder:
      Why did you blog in English and German on the same Blog?

      • Robert Weller

        Because for one my blog is still fairly small and I wanted to drive traffic in total, for the other because the German market is still rather small I sought out “better” opportunities to get started. The German community is growing and people are getting better at networking, so I’m focussing on a German audience again.

        Bonus: As a native speaker I can translate and therefore provide access to English information.

        •*/*/*/CEO/top100 Urs E. Gattiker

          Dear Robert

          Thanks for replying. Interesting approach. I started with an English blog as well (actually in 1999 but then it was still a newsboard) in social media in and about 2008 with
          The company blog at carried corporate info. But I soon found that German speaking clients wanted the stuff in their native language. So I had to adjust. I wish I could do one in French as well and Italian, but i neither have the skills nor the time to do so.

          @Toushenne:twitter I also found that readers differ according to language. For instance, generally native English speakers are quicker to comment then German speaking ones. Mind you, the latter may take the time to read most of what one writes for a blogpost, but I digress.
          With the CyTRAP BlogRank we have developed a tool that reveals these differences across countries and / or language. This applies as much to writing style as to commenting and how people comment. Therefore, comparing an English blog from Australia to one from the UK is sometimes as much misleading as doing this between a Swiss, Austrian and / or German blog.

          Each language / country has its culture and this is reflected in many ways how people blog – corporate or private blogs – regardless.
          Robert, thanks for sharing and have a great weekend.

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