Are social media communities more efficient, focused than mainstream media?

June 14, 2008

Are social media communities more efficient, focused than mainstream media?Social media is changing the way society shares and discusses information. With platforms like Twitter, Friendfeed, Ustream and others providing methods for delivering up-to-the minute information, will the larger classic media outlets get left in the dust?

Steve Gillmor over at TechCrunch wrote an interesting piece recently regarding the speed of sharing information in social communities. Gillmor was doing a little surfing the other day and came upon news via Twitter and Summize that popular political journalist Tim Russert had died. In a very short period of time, there was a buzz surrounding the tragedy all over Twitter.

However, the big media groups hadn’t said a word about Russert’s death. In fact, the first time I heard anything about it on television was just a few minutes ago during coverage of the U.S. Open (about 8:30 p.m. EST). Granted, I haven’t been looking hard, but for big news like this, being a day later than a “small” social platform like Twitter is significant.

Tragedies aren’t the only topics that generate real-time discussion. The U.S. presidential race has also been discussed widely on Twitter and Friendfeed. The beauty of platforms like this is that everyone interested can watch live coverage of a debate and instantly debate and discuss the happenings on Twitter. Why wait for CNN to pull together a brief and call up correspondents when you can discuss it immediately?

In some cases, news outlets that deliver television coverage aren’t even necessary, what with all the different social platforms for exchanging audio, video, picture and text content. The recent WWDC Apple keynote wasn’t broadcast on TV, but interested folks could catch real-time user video and audio content, follow blogs updated every minute, and discuss each announcement on Twitter. Who needs the big dogs?

The mainstream media outlets are aware of the benefits that social media tools present. Many are working to integrate social tools on their own sites, but the learning and implementation curve is pretty big right now. The best most media groups like NBC, ABC, CBS and others can manage right now are blogs with discussion features or updated video players.

That isn’t to say there’s some sort of competition between big media outlets and small user-generated social communities. To the contrary, both social networks and media outlets exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship to each other. But as social media networks gain speed with users, the large media outlets might start seeing the adverse affects of having fewer viewers and participants.

If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, give Twitter a try. Once you set up an account, Summize is a great way to search for people with similar interests and “follow” their tweets. Don’t be scared — tweeters are very friendly, and always happy to welcome a new, wet-behind-the-ears member to the community.

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2 Responses to “Are social media communities more efficient, focused than mainstream media?”

  1. Leslie Poston:

    Twitter, FriendFeed and other sites, like Plurk (shudder) have completely replaced my news feed.

  2. GoingLikeSixty:

    @Leslie: if NBC doesn’t stop the canonization of Russert, I’m doing the same. I use newser as my main news RSS anyway, but I did like to watch at least one network nightly news just to see if I might have missed anything.

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