Four Signs Social Media Is Now A Mass Medium

One common complaint I hear from marketers is that social media is not (yet) a mass medium. For example, the circulation for Cosmopolitan is 3 million, while the magazine counts just 700,000 fans in Facebook. And while it seems (almost) everyone is creating, using or consuming social media today, it is a highly fractured channel. Thirty years ago, almost every person watching television was tuned into one of three networks; today, 550 million people use Facebook, and each and every one of them is their own network.

However, the fact that social media is fractured and personalized does not mean that it isn't a mass medium; it just means it is a challenging mass medium. Here is the evidence for social as a mass medium:

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I'm On A Social Media Horse!

Hello, marketers, I'm Social Media.  Look at your traditional marketing; now back to me; now back at your traditional marketing; now back to me. 

How's your traditional marketing looking?  Time spent watching TV at home rose just 0.6 percent in the first quarter and newspaper circulation is down 5% after a 10.6% plunge a year ago. Meanwhile, traffic to Facebook is up 60% this year.  

Now look at your television and print budgets. Better put on sunglasses or all those zeros and commas may blind you! Now look at your social media budget -- I'll wait while you find a magnifying glass. Now back to your television budget; now back to my budget.

Can your traditional advertising cut costs like me? Can it reach 150,000 with 98% positive sentiment at no cost like me? Can it cause 4.8M people to seek it out rather than be ignored as the DVR fast-forwards? Does it empower your employees?

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A Plan To Rid Twitter Of Auto DMs (But Only With Your Help)

Some blog posts generate little reaction; some generate a lot; and sometimes it is a single idea contained within a blog post that spurs the greatest response. I recently authored a diatribe entitled "Eight Things I'm Sick Of In Social Media."  The comments associated with the post are fascinating and informative, but one point created the strongest and most supportive reaction:  When I said I was sick of Auto DMs on Twitter.  (For those who don't know, Auto DMs are generic, pre-programmed responses that are automatically sent to each new follower on Twitter.)

One commenter, Maria Langer, said: "PLEASE OH PLEASE EVERYONE! Block and report the folks who use automated DMs or @replies. These people are spammers!"  If her reaction sounds exaggerated, then you haven't seen the results of the online survey we conducted. When asked about Auto DMs, 72% of people said they find Auto DMs unwelcome and 66% have less respect for the people who send them.  Maria's strong attitude matches that of most Twitter users.

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