No Media is an Island

I was recently a guest on @pharmaguy ’s (aka John Mack) blogtalk radio show.  The title of the show – ‘Is “Social Media” a Distinction Without Meaning in Today’s World?’

This appellation, was in reference to an article, by co-guest @Alex__Butler, entitled ‘Social Media doesn’t really exist’.  If you read Alex’s article, he says a lot more than that, however the title argues that virtually everything now, of value, on the web is social, so the term ‘social media’ has little meaning.

Firstly Alex, Silja Choquet (@WhyDotPharma) and myself, outlined our respective presentations for this weeks SMi conference, also worth a listen in the archive if you are attending.  Then we debated this little matter about whether social media exists or not!

Alex made an important clarification,  people can be solely consumers of content, not engaging with a community or creating content, yet the medium can be indeed social.  The example Alex offered, was Trip Advisor, where most people will ‘consume’ reviews yet never bother to post them.  The majority are hugely influenced by the minority, that actually post the reviews.

My take was that virtually ‘all media is social’ now, whether it is online or not.  Even if it does not have a social element, it will often be integrated socially. An obvious example is a TV advert promoting a Facebook site.  This means that the term ‘social’ becomes redundant and we are left with just ‘media’.

The ‘all media is social’ idea, is not a new concept.  (I sadly googled this and there are hundreds of entries from as early as 2006!)  The principle is not in doubt, when you read  the blogs of various ‘social media’  commentators, (who probably actually don’t exist!) , the only debate seems to be in the definition itself, i.e. just because a TV advert links to some social content, does not make it, itself inherently social…. Anyway enough of that!

Engagement and providing high quality content will be decisive in the end.  Before that however, it is vital to start with the fundamentals of marketing, i.e. who are your customers, what do they need and what behaviours are you trying to drive.

This brings me to the title of this blog that ‘No Media is an island’

Consider these questions :-

  • Are all elements of your marketing plan working in a co-ordinated way and towards the same objective?
  • Do you understand the consumer journey – how they are influenced by, and how do they engage with the various channels throughout?
  • What is the relative impact of these channels? (online and offline)

If you can’t answer these questions you may be suffering from an ‘island mentality’ of sorts.  A belief that the chosen media is more important than the strategy, and does not need to link together with your objective, and other elements of your ‘mix’.

These questions may sound obvious and textbook-esque but the reality is that such integration and insight seldom happens.

You can judge if the title ‘No Media is an island’ has any relevance or resonance in this regard.  Maybe ‘No media should be an island’ would a more accurate way of putting it – as there are, no doubt, plenty of media islands out there.

You may be content with your company/brand website being a deserted island, if so make sure you have a long cocktail and a fully stocked iPod, as it may be a while before anyone drops by……

P.S. I have a confession, I did google ‘No media is an island’ and could not find any references to it – so at least its original I guess (The poet John Donne may disagree….)