Social media is such a broad concept right now. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc. all fall under the social media banner. But social media is what radio has been doing for decades: connecting people. You've heard many radio enthusiasts, radiophiles as I call myself, say that radio was the original social media. I'm not sure about that. But I will say radio was one of the original social media conduits.
The basic concept is that social media gives people another way to connect. People originally connected by congregating in the town square, or on the town green. Churches also held a place in the social connect space. When the telephone was invented it gave people a way to connect without leaving home! What a concept!
The interesting thing about phones that some may not remember is the party line. This was where several people shared the same phone number, but would hear a different ring so they knew when it was for them to answer. For example, the Smith's would get 2 ring intervals (ring, ring, pause, ring ring) and the Jone's would get three ring intervals (ring, ring, ring, pause, ring, ring, ring). Some rings were longer or shorter than others to make patterns (riiinnng, ring, riiinng ring). But each customer on the line would hear the ring and could discern if it was for them based on the ring that the phone company assigned to them. Quite interesting! Of course back then, the phone rang maybe once per day per customer. Obviously that system no longer works and is one reason why everyone has their own number now.
It stands to reason that since most people are naturally social, they would sometimes all get on the phone at the same time and have a party! Fast forward several decades and we had three-way calling. I remember hearing about some girls that maximized this concept. One girl would conference in a friend on a call she was having with another friend. That friend could in turn conference in someone on her three way line, and so on. The modern day party line.
Of course there were also the pay services that popped up for late night TV viewers looking for people to talk to. Some of you will remember those 900 numbers to call and "connect". And this is what I associate social media of today with. It is a way for us to connect with people we have not met in person, yet maybe have similar interests. Yes, social media is the modern day party line. Face(book) it, it's true.
Radio broadened the reach of conversations. People listened to the radio because that is what everyone did. And when there were fewer channels to listen to, people shared in the experience while they were not in the same place with each other. People bonded listening to the radio even though they were miles apart. They were entertained, they laughed, they cried, they rejoiced and they mourned. And people of certain generations can tell you when they were listening to the radio when specific events happened. They would discuss what they heard the next day with their co-workers. Radio was and still is a social conduit.
So, what is social media? It is people connecting. If you connect with someone through the Internet, you have just participated in social media. Did you subscribe to a news list, send an email, join a message board, or join a social network? It is all social media. The media is the form or tool you used. The social aspect is simply the fact that you are likely connecting with another person on the other end.
Here we are in 2012 with new tools for social media on the Internet and there are thousands of self proclaimed experts on what social media is and how to make money capitalizing on the concept. (Incidentally I do not think I am any where near being an expert on a phenomenon that is but a few years old) What they aren't telling you, is that you have been doing social media all your life just without the Internet. It's true that the Internet is providing useful tools to reach more people at a faster rate than with traditional media. But is it really working that way? Not for most. Why? Well, that is one topic I will cover in this space in the future.
What I want to leave you with today is the knowledge that social media is not a get rich quick system. It can help you reach targeted goals faster than you would without it; even making some seemingly overnight successes! But if you really want success, you need a plan, a separate social media plan. All business owners should have a business plan, a marketing plan, and now a social media plan.
How can radio tap in to the revenue stream? It's quite simple. Do what radio is known for: connect with people. More on that in this space as well. While you wait for more of my insights, tell me what challenges you are having with your social media. Connect with me via email: charlieprofit /at\ cabradio /dot\ com.