The Social Media Ecosytem in six minutes… here we go!
I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand the social media ecosystem and have identified over 600 different sites/tools/platforms etc. Initially the effort left me very confused as I struggled to define the different types of sites. As you can see I realised that this was entirely the wrong approach. The Social Web needs to be defined in terms of process and this is what I have tried to do. See what you think?
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I have identified six separate segments to the Social Media Ecosystem.
This can be summarised succinctly.
This is both the starting place and the end point. Platforms are where all the social stuff goes on. This is where people come to socialise. These platforms include the Social Networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Ecademy.
Just as important though are the hardware platforms – the power and connectedness of which are crucial enablers. There are social platforms out there with specific focii – covering the four major web media – text (WordPress), Video (YouTube), Audio (iTunes) and Photos/Images (Flickr, Slideshare).
Content – is created with the objective to express views, opinion, information and news . This can be done in a variety of ways – text, audio, photo and or video. This WordPress Blog is a good example. So is Wikipedia – the group collaborative sharing of information. This information is published, shared and aggregated in the Social Web, making its accessible. Podcast and Vidcast creators produce audio and video content, photographs can be posted on Facebook or on Flickr. If you don’t want to record something but get it out there right way- then why not do it live at Livestream?
Conversations take place in different ways – through blogs or microblogs, instant messaging, email, chat, VOIP and Forums. These all have sites, software and applications to enable this to take place. Conversation differs from Content because it involves the interaction or reaction to someone else’s expression or the start of a conversational threa of your own. Think about Twitter – microblogging. 140 characters hardly constitutes content creation.
This is all about making content – text, audio, video and photo – available, particularly to people you do not know. There are over 500 million people on Facebook – you cannot know all of them. By posting a video there or on YouTube you make it widely available. Sharing can be done collaboratively through Wikis, through Broadcast media such as podcasts, by being aggregated on sites like Digg, disseminated to your friends and followers by sites such as Friendfeed, through discussion as on Twitter or through search – by being out there it can be found. The rise of Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places also shows the importance of sharing real world location as well as information.
In order to enable and facilitate these processes, there are a plethora of tools to make things easier. Widgets and Applications enable access from other hardware platforms – think smart phone. Tags make it easier for the search engines to find content. Search itself has a vast array of advanced features, one recent example is Google Instant which offers you results instantly while you type in you query. Analytics enable you to measure and grade your effectiveness in the Social Web. My final example is the API – Application Programming Interface – which enables those clever Geek chappies to link one software programme to another – help join up the social web in a programming sense.
This social interaction involves stepping outside reality and accepting a different (game based) set of rules through which to socialise. This can involve cooperation but I suspect it is so successful because it is so often competitive. Gaming can be casual but also involves role playing, multiplayer games and virtual worlds. The objectives become the game objectives rather than real world socialisation but it is a massive growth area and whether its farmville or mafia wars on Facebook or World of Warcraft, it is a huge part of the web 2.0 ecosystem.
In summary the Social Media is all about people – connecting and networking with them. Social Web Plaforms provide the places where people can be in contact. They then create content, have conversations, share information, collaborate and compete.
I think the most significant part of this ecosystem description is that the taxonomy is one of process not of product or platform. I expected to define the social web in terms of the types of websites but found myself readjusting to the types of processes undertaken. That is the real revolution about Web 2.0 – the Social Web.