Communication is redefining itself through new modes of technology where Social Media or Social networking or Web 2.0 is an nontraditional tool to communicate with the people of same interests, preferences, variations and tastes across the globe via internet. It is a divergent phenomenon and has different forms that include Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowd sourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Examples of social media applications are Google Groups Wikipedia, MySpace , Facebook, Last.fm(personal music) , YouTube (video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging) and other microblogs such as Jaiku and Pownce. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo. There are other giants including StumbleUpon and Digg that integrate user feedback, commentary and work to connect users with each other and other applications and visitors from around the world.
Unlike all other Traditional Media including Newspapers, Televisions, Magazines, Books and Radio; Social Media is managed and controlled by the common people who are either Information Hunters or involve in social media for financial benefits. SM is a user-oriented approach, it’s crucial to identify and classify these users in accordance with their potential and the market segment they hold. Heaviest aspect of social media is; people are becoming comfortable with social usage of this media. According to the Consumer Internet Barometer produced by the Conference Board and TNS, “Social-interaction platforms, such as top-ranked MySpace and Facebook, have grown dramatically in recent years, with one out of every four people online now visiting social-networking sites.” Bill Martens 43 Year old Novelist and minor league football player who has lived in several countries, speaks seven languages, and currently resides in Japan says “Social Networking allows easy communication for those who might not otherwise communicate in the real world. My friend is deaf and she uses it exclusively for that purpose. It also allows people in the same area to make contact where they might not even know each other exists”, he added that as for the financial benefits, it does allow people to spread the word about web sites for which one is web master. For sites that are advertising driven, social media is a bonus to earn. Bill Marten has marked these sites too addictive and time consuming that few people tend to spend way too much time on it. According to him few people also begin to have all their relationships in the online world and completely forget about the external world, According to him it is a dilemma that social media users are becoming more social online and less social offline.
Very interestingly these extremely easy to join networks keeps the teenagers busy, who lake patience to fill up long complicated forms. They can join just by pushing a button “Add as friend” to expand their network. On these networks identity becomes more important than the person himself, social media marketers use to refer each other either by user names or avatars. This expanding circle helps them in becoming more and more popular within these networks, more the user is popular more his or her submissions are valued. A very popular user on Digg Mr.BabyMan has gained a gigantic fan bank whereas his opponents use to mark him as an exploiter and using his status.
Social media gurus have criticized social media as well and this criticism does hold justification, i.e. quantitative use destroying the quality of content. This is a serious issue and probably a hurdle on the way towards success of SM as well. No doubt these sites have become a major tool not only to interact but to accumulate the information in a single place. A Massive database is available for users and that is for free where content and context are the ruling forces of Internet Marketing. But a criticism is making it place about the weak content. Replying to this criticism, another school of thought is of the opinion that quality still finds its way because the users are people, not bots, and content if not providing what users are looking for or is in old hat, will not be able to gimmick any attention even if made very much popular artificially.
For Florin Nedelcu 23 year’s old, male from Bucharest, Romania says, ”Social Media is quickly redefining the way humans interact with each other online. Whether it is through blogs or social networks, people have easier access to the content they are interested in and can interact with individuals that share their interests. He commented on the negative aspect of social media as “the negative aspect of social media is marketing and branding but lately it becomes quite frustrating to notice social networks flooded with weak content promoted so traffic can be driven to obscure websites that pay for the attention.” While Joe Smith 28 year old male from CA, USA has entirely different opinion about the quality content and he takes the social media as source of socializing he says “Compare social media with grade A, B or even wrong movies these have audience though; similarly social media produces varied type of content; and end user defines the nature of the content”, according to him lots of people from South Asia; of course online; approach social media indifferently. He made another point about the success of these networks saying,”Social Media is very prosper therefore millions of people are joining it every years and companies are investing in the startups”. I would deem it wise to agree because big companies have their eyes on these networks and are being bought for enormous amounts of money; reason is popularity of these sites.
Recently, Bebo, A social networking site, second only to MySpace and Facebook was bought by AOL for $856 million. Several online corporate companies have already realized the huge potential of social networks and started using them in their own interests. Maki from Toronto a top digger has suggested in this regard that big businesses are trying to find a way into a specific target market and since social websites come with an engaged and built-in audience, it makes sense for them to acquire them. He added, “The problem is finding a way to monetize them without spoiling the social experience, and I think if this goes on and power is taken away from the users, social media just won’t be social any more”.
Social Media, being an emerging concept is still undiscovered for most of the individuals associated with web business and having most of the aspects unexplored, the sustainability of SM is still a question mark. Talking with reference to Pakistan social Media is still a concept unknown to millions. A very small number has acquaintance with true soul of social media. While comparing Pakistan with its neighboring countries in Asian Continent e.g. India, Japan, China and Sri Lanka; these networks are almost run by the people from these countries. Hasan Saleem 24 years old Search Engine Optimizer from Pakistan has defined social media as man managed networks that include all those websites where people post, comment, criticize, appraise news, products and services. For him social Media is source to generate huge traffic, sales, exposure, worldwide audience. While he thinks Negative criticism on content and services is unproductive aspect. He presumes a bright future for social news as a medium that will persist indefinitely rather will grow. He thinks Pakistan needs to pay attention towards this emerging industry.
Millions of people are joining these networks every year and these have become the talk of time. Every other Article in Newsweek, The Times or Fortune is about these networks. While asking people about their specific goals to be on these social media, a varied range of views were observed e.g. Babychen Methew an entrepreneur Journalist from India and top stumbler revealed why he was in social media? “I am an information addict. And I have a website which once in a while, gets great traffic from the main social news sites such as Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon. These two things work in a complementary manner for me. I believe that it might be possible to become successful in social media even if you are not an information addict, but I have not seen many examples of that yet.” For him to be successful on these networks Active participation (submission and voting on good content) and networking are the crucial components of social media success.
A total sum of Social media and Internet Marketing has possible for web base business to market themselves socially through these networks. Ahmed Soba a 25 year-old guy from Maldives has been among top diggers comments on how social media is useful financially other than making contacts all around the world “Social media is a technology on the internet that allows people to share content and experience with each other online use. It can be used for promotion of websites through social media channels (Digg, Reddit and SutmbleUpon). Promotion on these networks can get massive amounts of traffic for web sites. You can get better searching engine ranking because there is permanent back links from trusted domains and some times online users also blogs it. One of the key advantages of these networks is of being free. No need to pay thousand of dollars to buy many links rather Per Pay Click rewards are enormous”.
People wonder how these sites earn when they provide everything for free to millions of people. Advertising! They bring in revenues by running advertising. These sites are great for advertisers as they can reach millions of people. These networking sites have come up with a targeted ad solution where the advertiser reaches people going by the user profiles and interests. This is what makes social networking sites a haven for advertisers too. If you have a product on “music” you wish to promote, all you need to do is to join one of these social networking sites and promote it to music lovers. Imagine the number of targeted visitors to your website. Another twist to the social networking sites is the “social media” sites, where people can share news, personal experiences, reviews and favorite websites with other people. Digg, which is a social news site, allows people to select interesting news or blog posts. When a news item or blog post is “dugg,” by other users, it gets prominence in terms of placement on the site. It has helped in homogenizing the planet, mixing each other. Contextualizing the phenomenon of globalization; it is reasonable to assume that the internet will be home to more than socialization and information – it will be the home of true artificial intelligence.
Capn_caveman thinks the pros are that social media often finds some more obscure (but interesting) content that is not always picked up by the major news networks…. For him one of the cons is that there is a tendency to have a herd mentality on breaking news stories where people follow each other blindly. According to him the herd mentality has been widely discussed as a possible problem with social news sites in general. Jason Lankow a 27 years old male from California says, “herd mentality isn’t always inherently bad…we do it to stay informed and belong, and sometimes this can be good if we herd around a good idea and act on it (i.e. the popularity of solar energy articles on digg).
Jason Lankow expresses as “Social media gives people the chance to grow their existing network of friends and collectively shape the content of the site and determine what news is. This can be good when quality content is discovered and promoted and bad when poor content is gamed and becomes front page news”. He added that he loves meeting people from around the world and the voting process has made reading the news of the day so much interesting, and has helped him to hold his own content to a higher standard. According to him “everyone seems to think that the future of social media is to create meaning and structure across multiple sites, but so far, most of the aggregators have furthered what people perceive as the main problem – it is one more site to use and try to maintain an active profile in most cases. But there will be a clear winner or two – maybe Google and Digg! it can be fun too (i.e. rick roll, etc.) when so many people embrace an idea that it spills beyond social media into mainstream media probably people’s biggest complaint is that top users have a herd around them that* blindly vote for the person’s content, but for a person to get to that point they typically have to gain a reputation for quality and maintain it. He added that the same negative aspects of a herd mentality that exist outside of the internet can be present in extreme cases (i.e. religious discrimination, propaganda).”
He elaborated further, “don’t think it is that big of a deal that big companies try to market through social media (i.e. youtube, facebook and myspace)…it is inevitable…businesses will always be trying to get in the mind of the consumer, and it gets harder and harder the more sensational stories must become so one other negative that we see is more blurring of reality like the fake story of the kid who used his dad’s credit cards to buy prostitutes that was posted on money.co.uk or the office worker freak-out video that was made by the director of the movie Wanted the good side to this though, is that we don’t have a top-down feeding of the news to the people where the people have no ability to speak out against a fraudulent story. When the people are misled, the phony is exposed almost immediately but some of these fakers don’t care because they still get the publicity for the fake story upfront, and then even more exposure once they are discovered.
Zaibatsu top digger comments about social media, “It’s a way for people to interact, basically sharing thoughts and ideas publicly.” While talking about cons he said, “The cons are that people just don’t understand what it is, if you remember “multimedia” in the late 80’s and 90’s everyone wanted to be a part of it, but no one got it. That’s what social media is today, I have to say facebook or Myspace to lay out a framework for the convo. And then try and explain the concept behind sites like digg. We’re a groups of people can influence the media more than a 3 minute blurb on CNN It’s the wisdom of the informed masses. The power of the masses to move a concept, stories or even a cute picture forward so a group of people can enjoy, comment or talk action for good or bad on a topic. The old media just doesn’t get it. He said, “I started with digg … a member from month 1, it was fun, and it still is. I enjoy getting stories that I care about to the masses. It’s so much hard then just a year ago due to digg and other sites changing the algo. But for every cute bunny story, I want to get 1 out about the environment, or politics. Just the stuff I care about. Don’t get me wrong I have to feed the masses, but what makes it for me is the fact that I can make a difference. A change for good”
While talking about the cons he elaborated’ “It sucks, ask Steve Jobs… you have to make something the herd likes and then they’ll follow… I think he did a forbes or fortune article where he said the same thing. He claimed that, “I’ll have the largest social media market company on the planet in 1 year” About the future of social media sites he said, “the future is twitter, plurk, friend feed and mixx.com new community feature. Where people, companies and individuals can interact in real-time online share and collaborating. http://www.mixx.com/groups
Yes, countries like the U.S. are not informed about Pakistan. They don;t understand the nightlife in Lahore, or that you’re not all part of the terrorist fringe. I get it, but the U.S. and Euro population doesn’t. Just getting the word out through blogging, media that Pakistan has loving caring people jsut like we do. It’s the sad truth, but Americans have a hard time dealing with Americans