Social media: Old dog, new tricks


From speeches and letters being read out by slaves to status updates and tweets being shared to the world, New Media has much in common with the so-called Old Media. The desire to spread news, gossip, opinions and status updates has always existed, according to The Economist’s digital editor Tom Standage in his book “Writing on the Wall”.

Early Social Sharing

He points out that social sharing has always had an electrifying effect giving the example of Martin Luther King’s 95 theses, which, printed and passed from hand to hand, spread rapidly across Germany and within a month were known across Europe.

Advertising: How Readers Became a Market Rather than a Community

Today, the Internet plays the most important role in information distribution and success is measured via shares, comments, retweets and page views. Back then it was the number of pamphlets reprinted and how far the message spread. The industrial revolution resulted in the invention of the printing press, which made information distribution much easier. To beat the competition, newspapers reduced subscription prices and sold advertising space to increase revenue. Print media went from being a platform for discussion and debate to an outlet for advertising. Newspaper readers became a lucrative market. Television and Radio went through a similar transformation, only faster.

Media Assets Must Be Social Media Capable

Today, social media sites are the premier platform for information exchanges. The advantage here is that the user community plays the major role in the exchange process and cannot be simply treated as a market. Social media outfits are not publishers. They rely on their users to create and share content. Social media satisfies humans’ basic need to connect to others. The difference is now this need is satisfied digitally. Traditional media, having embraced digital, makes sure social media users can participate with their content. Take for example, TV shows that use social media voting mechanisms or print media articles that extend to commentary and debate online. OOH advertising, considered digital’s final frontier, now allows smart phone users to engage with media assets using social media platforms. At Moving Walls, we turned the tallest digital screen in Kuala Lumpur to a voting results panel. Twitter users voted for their favourite FIFA World Cup team’s flag to appear on-screen. With social media engagement, outdoor media assets are no longer limited to the audience around their location.

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