Clay Shirky, a professor at NYU, recently spoke at a Web 2.0 conference about how social media is slowly but surely taking up time that we spend on traditional media. Being the poor college student that I am, I was unable to attend the event, but I was able to catch a video of his speech on a Read Write Web blog post.
Shirky’s main argument was that
- It’s better to be doing something than nothing
- People who are engaging in social media are consuming like they would in traditional media, but they’re also producing and sharing content
- People are spending time with social media that they could be spending with traditional media
Television, what most people think of when they hear traditional media, has dominated our free time for the last 50 years. Television’s influence, however, has began to wane with the rise of social media. And while the proportions of TV watching to social media usage are still strongly skewed in favor of TV, I feel it’s a safe bet to assume that people are going to take more time away from traditional media and invest in social media.
One of the reasons for that social media isn’t a sweeping phenomenon right now (and Shirky touches on this in his presentation) is that social media is still a relatively new concept. Social media developers are still figuring out what works with social media and what doesn’t. But just like television, developers will start to get better and better ideas of how social media will work, and when that happens, we will start to see a more rapid shift to social media.
As practitioners, we need to be either inline with where our publics are going or ahead of them. And because social media is still on the rise, we have a chance to be slightly ahead of the game. Social media outlets may be different in the future, but I guarantee that the core tenants of building relationships via social media (establishing credibility, not over-plugging a product, knowing how to pitch to social media consumers, ect.) will be the same.
So when I saw Todd Defren’s blog post about how pubic relations practitioners need to either use twitter or get out of public relations, I actually found myself agreeing with him. I strongly believe that there is and always will be a need for traditional public relations tactics, but we need to start integrating social media tools into what we consider as traditional practices.
What do you, as either a public relations practitioner or a social media consumer, think about the future
of social media versus traditional media? Will we see a dramatic shift in where we pay attention? Or do you think that social media is just a fad that will fade over time?
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