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Social Media and Electronic Communication

What's the difference between social media and electronic media?

How is social media changing how we communicate? How, specifically, might a new business use social media? What additional resources are recommended for learning more about social media and electronic communication?

Electronic communication is any communication done electronically. All social media are part of electronic communication, but not all electronic communication is social media.

What is social media?

Social media are electronic media that transform passive audiences into active participants in the communication process by allowing them to share content, revise content, respond to content, or contribute new content.

In short, social media is a conversation supported by online tools.

Tools such as these:

Facebook YouTube

LinkedIn Flickr


Facebook, a social networking site, is the #1 website worldwide with more page views than Google
33% of Facebook users are fans of brands the #1 reason: To get special offers and promotions.

On YouTube, the average user spends 15 minutes a day on the site.

More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than all 3 major U.S. networks created in 60 years.

A recent survey suggested that video company profiles on YouTube have more measurable impact than company profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other prominent sites.


research collaboration company updates tips on product usage information from experts customer service with individuals


Social network and blogging sites are now the 4th most popular activity online, even ahead of personal e-mail.


75% of Americans and 66% of the global Internet population visit social networks.


Global Internet Population

25% Dont Visit

34% Dont Visit 75% Visit 66% Visit


93% of Americans believe that a company should have a presence on social media sites.
85% believe that these companies should use these services to interact with consumers.
Presence on Social Media Sites
7% No

Use SM to Interact with Consumers

15% No

93% Yes

85% Yes


Social media is not a fad.

Its a fundamental shift in the way all of us communicate.


The old communication model was a monologue.

We talk. You listen.


The average person is exposed to an average of 3,000 advertising messages a day.

But consumers arent listening anymore. Interruptive marketing has seen its day.


The new communication model is a dialogue.

It should be transparent, authentic, vibrant, and consumer-driven.


In a social media environment, effective communication is no longer about broadcasting a tightly controlled message but rather about initiating conversations and participating in conversations started by customers and other stakeholders.


This year Millenials/Gen Y-ers now outnumber Baby Boomers.


Millenials spend 16 hours a week online. 96% have joined a social network. They have an average of 53 online friends.


70% of them trust recommendations of consumers they dont know.

90% of them trust recommendations by people they do know.

Consumers Not Known

Consumers Known
10% Dont Trust

30% Dont Trust

70% Trust

90% Trust


In short, they dont care about ads or sales presentations.

They care about what their friends think.


Millenials/Gen Y-ers also expect to be able to use social media on the job.


Artisan Flavors Ice Cream Shop, a recently opened and independently owned ice cream store with ice cream made on the premises used all the following:
Videos (YouTube, Vimeo) Podcasts (iTunes) Press Releases (PRNewswire) Maps (Google) Photos (Flickr) Conversations (Twitter, Facebook) Blogs (WordPress, Blogger) Yelp (Reviews)


Presentations (Slideshare) Livecasting ( Customer Service (Crowdsound)

Collaboration (Wikspaces) SMS/Voice/Video (Yahoo Messenger, Skype) Events (Zvents)


But not only is the communication model changing, what students are learning in a typical business communication course is changing, too.


Memos and letters still have a role, to be sure, but they are being replaced in many instances by a growing variety of electronic media.


These disruptive forces never stop, either. Some first-generation electronic media are already being supplanted by new social media tools. For example, in many instances microblogs, blogs, newsfeeds, and social networking sites are replacing e-mail.


There are two fallacies about social media and electronic communication.


Fallacy #1: Instant messaging (IM), blogs, social networks, microblogs, wikis, and other new media are social toys, not business tools.


A year or two ago, one might have asked, Who is using these new media? Today, the question is more like, Who isnt?


But large companies arent the only ones using social media. Thousands of small companies are using social media, too.


Fallacy #2: Students already know how to use all these new media, so instructors dont need to cover them in class.


Most students may know how to use these media, but only those with significant work experience are likely to know how to use them in a professional context. Students need to get practical advice on using all of these media in ways that meet the expectations of the employers.


Emphasizing the tools students will be expected to use on the job is critical, but even that is only part of the story. Even more important than the tools themselves is the profound shift that these tools have enabled, which students need to learn.


Businesses that stick with the old we talk, you listen mode of unilateral communication increasingly find that nobody is willing to listen anymore. Therefore, to succeed in this new business environment, business communicators must approach their tasks with a new mindset, in addition to these new tools.


Echoing the shift from the Webs 1.0s unidirectional model to Web 2.0s interactive, conversational model, we call this new approach Business Communication 2.0.


The 8 Modes of Social Media

Conversations Comments and critiques Orientations Summaries Reference materials

Narratives Teasers Status updates and announcements