Mainstream Media Rules Social Media

A Pew study claims that “More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four – the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post accounted for fully 80% of all links.” reported Read Write Web on Monday.

There are questions over the sample of blogs that the study looked at, but this to me isn’t the crux of the matter.

Communities in social media can be identified through patterns – shared links, common interests, a flow of thought that passes from one blog to another and cascades like a slinky until a finite point is reached.

What this study says to me is that there are no tangible blogging communities emerging, but my gut instinct and knowledge (!) of the space says otherwise. We know the foodie bloggers operate as a community, and we know the mummy bloggers operate as a community – are their links as communities not formed as a result of their common interests, idea flows and shared links?

Is social media, media where we are social, as opposed to media that is social?

It could be argued that a forum community bound by interest that sits on a common platform is a far more active example of social media, than a group of hyperlinked bloggers whose content is similar but ultimately not bound by anything.

This is the difference to me at any rate, between platforms and spheres.

A platform is tangible, a sphere isn’t.

Social media is often thought of as platform based – Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare; content here is very rigid, formed by the platform it’s being published on.

Blogs are based on a platform, but content doesn’t happen as a result of the platform, the platform facilitates it’s publication – nothing more, it’s very fluid.

When we’re looking at engaging communities, I would argue that it works best where there is a tangible object for that group of people to be holding onto – a forum, a discussion topic on a Facebook page.

Does this research essentially say, if you, as a marketer are looking to focus on developing the grass roots of a brand, don’t go to blogs, but social media?

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