Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

Summary: Social media has gone away and become 'social distribution of mass media...'


There have been quite a few studies lately on what people Tweet and post on Facebook, and the large number of links that people share. Invariably, the links that most people share belong to large media organizations -- what used to be called mass-media.

For example, Nate Silver recently analyzed links to news sources and found that of the top 30 news sources, nearly all were traditional large news sites such as AP or New York Times, only TMZ and Politico were new.

A recent Yahoo! Research report found just 20,000 elite Twitter users produce 50% of Tweets (Twitter has 150 m users). Sounds very mass-media like to me, I bet 10,000 of those users are journalists Tweeting about their stories.

[Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media - SVW]

Yet we seem to have convinced ourselves that we are living in the age of "social media" where citizen journalists are producing tons of great content and upsetting the balance of power in the media world.

Where? I don't see it.

I see a world of mass media where a few large media brands still control most of the media output and thus the conversation around the topics that they choose.

Where is the social media?

For example, in my sector Techcrunch, GigaOM, VentureBeat, ReadWriteWeb, etc, are media organizations with publishers and editors and all the infrastructure of any traditional news publication. Long gone is the time when you could describe them as "blogs" -- they are no different than any other media company.

Where is the social media?

Very few people write blogs or produce any type of media these days, people seem to prefer clicking a "like" button, or retweeting someone else's content.

It would be more accurate to describe this as social distribution of media -- it most definitely is not social media.

Even Twitter founders such as Biz Stone say Twitter is more about consuming media via shared links rather than people creating original content in the form of Tweets.

And on Facebook I see a lot of mass media links in what my network shares and very little that could be described as social media.

People are behaving like an online newspaper delivery boy. That's not as compelling as the original promise of social media, and its implied challenge to the powerful owners of mass media. Weren't we, the people, back in charge through social media? Hadn't we done away with the "gate keepers" of mass media?

It certainly doesn't look that way.

So, shouldn't we retire the term social media?

We should call it what it has now become: social distribution of (mass) media.

It's a sad end to a promising start of what could have become a new era in media.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Thinks like that have been going on for years

    this is no different then people who pay extra to walk around with a Nike or Hilfiger braned shirt - They're paying Nike for the ability to advertise for Nike??

    So "social distribution" has been around forever - it's no different today, instead spending our time and effort to push someone else's youtube video out to the world for them, free of charge!
    Will Farrell
    • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

      @Will Farrell
      Thanks very much! <a href="">replica watches</a> :)
  • Social Media during the Japan earthquake and aftermath

    I was in Japan for the first week after the disaster. I do not speak Japanese and, like many foreigners there, depended entirely on the Internet for my news. What I found was that many of the US traditional media either covered weakly or sensationalized. The best source, turned out to be a guy who turned his live webstream into a real-time translation of the Japanese NHK broadcast called YokosoNews at His broadcast and translation included a twitter stream where people could ask him questions, share related links, share their own immediate experiences. It was amazing. Katz, the guy who did this, just started doing this as he saw the need. His agility and creativity in filling this void could have never been possible with traditional media. Check him out, he has become a bit of a twitter sensation too. @YokosuNews

    Kathleen Wiersch
    Kathleen Wiersch
  • You are looking at only part of it.

    Since it is only your opinion, you were fine until this:<br><br>"Its a sad end to a promising start of what could have become a new era in media."<br><br>Show me the end and I will show you ten areas where social media flourishes. Mass-media will always play a role in new ways the public communicates and will always broadcast... or in your theory, distribute through those who will share/disseminate it. Mass-media will find ways to navigate to the end user and because news and entertainment is so far reaching, it will always play a great role in a HUB broadcasting format. If you only look at mass-media, you are missing the more important elements and how people are building relationships and sharing content... whether UGC or not... the web format where inter-connections are created shows the true "social" in social media.<br><br>@adscientist
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    I find it funny how a "mass media" tech user writes an article about how social media is dead, yet has less than 7,000 updates over nearly a 4 year period. Don't slam a tool that you don't use. Your just as bad as the company's that "buy twitter" followers to build up their following real or fake. More than likely, your Facebook activity is no different.

    I agree with your comment about needing to adopt a new name for social media, but I certainly don't agree with your chosen name or other remarks. We're in the world of digital communications and that is how I personally prefer to refer to this new era of media.

    Also, we're just starting to scratch the service of this new media era and how we consume media on multiple devices, specifically mobile. To be a troll on this era already is like giving up on your profession. I'm sure you had valid points, articles, and arguments, but this is not one of them.

    Some of the "celeb twitter users" in the social media world (ie: Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, Scott Stratten, etc) hustled and authentically engaged to build up their following and brand. Maybe if you used the tool as a means of productive brand building or genuine interest to help others, you might find it more useful than you do right now.
  • horribly confused UCG and social lately?

    Social is about reversing the directional flow of information, from a push to a pull. The value is the efficiency is gained ... the network does the job of trolling for content for you.

    UGC is actually augmented in the social model, but more as commentary than original content. My guess is there is not nearly enough of it to fill the demands created by social technologies ability to surface it.
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media


    I think you're spot on, and I've written about this issue with a similar POV in Advertising Age and on my blog, Dim Bulb. Despite all of the snits you'll get here claiming that you don't grasp the Cosmic Importance of Social Media, you've nailed the fact as these:
    - The corporate takeover of both the means and content of social communication has rendered it less social and communicative than declarative and repetitive
    - Expert and sincerely motivated individuals have made good money promoting these behaviors as synonymous with social experience, which they're not
    - These and their actions don't change the underlying promise of social experience, which is unmediated peer-to-peer communication (i.e. REAL social)
    - Perhaps such communication emerges apart and aside from all the corporate behaviors of which we're so enamored?
    - The experts won't "see" it because it would challenge their authority and income. As Gil Scott- Heron said, sort of, "The Revolution Won't Be Socialized."
    - Yes, we need a new name for what will come next/other

    Anyway, well said,

  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    Stated another way, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of mass media's death were greatly exaggerated.

    It's not that the promise of social media is dead nor even that it the term social media should be retired because it has been relegated to being little more than a "delivery boy" for mass media, but rather that mass media adapted to the new age of web 2.0. We knew that it would; mass media was not going to shrivel up and die. But neither has the promise of Social Media shriveled up and died at the hands of mass media. The two can and should co-exist in coopertition.

    The individual still has more power at their fingertips than ever before in history. That genie is not going to be stuffed back in the bottle. Social media has and will be a powerful tool to keep the big guys - whether mass marketers, mass media or oppressive regimes and politicians - looking over their shoulder.

    So, if by, "a sad end to a promising start," you mean we need to revitalize the promise of social media to continually challenge, balance and, even, support mass media (and the other powers that be), then yes, I agree.
  • MySpace is lost, maybe Facebook also

    Social Networks like Facebook were cool 2-3 years ago when they made you feel in the elite group of college friends, but now that mass media has taken over facebook and twitter, Facebook is in the top, but this won't last forever, many people will get bored of Facebook and Twitter and these sites could probably lost more than 90% of the users after 5 years (2016) when a newer technology gets out to the market. Let's see if Kevin Rose or Larry Page can make their dream come true: remove market share from Facebooks, so that Facebook is not No 1 Social network.
    Gabriel Hernandez
    • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

      @Gabriel Hernandez
      Myspace was great before it was sold and they attempted to turn it from a music web page based hangout to a gay social media type setup like facebook. Hopefully things like facebook and twitter go away quickly as they are the scurge of todays earth. I would never say anyone who used facebook elite at anypoint. a bit of needy, possible social outcast who can't function in the real world yes..possible stalkers and pedophiles yes....elite no. I do hope myspace is sold to someone who reverts it back to a great personal web site type site. I'd love them to return back to its original format before it was ruined and turned into the stupid iLike crap. Social sites are just so stupid and dangerous the only good thing is it does let you keep the idiots in one place so the regular functional people know who to avoid due to stupidity.
  • social is not just about production

    Tom, I think you have a fair point in that social media is not all that social -- but only if your definition of social is limited to producing content on a social media site that has no editorial control. <br><br>At <a href="" target="_blank"></a> for example, we have 500+ bloggers that write thought-provoking content. So long as it's relevant to our site mission (customer-centric business) and non-promotional, it's good to go. <br><br>OK, so is that social? By your implied definition, yes. But I'd say engaging with others is more social than posting your own content. <br><br>Social is about people, not media. But the media can bring together people. I'm not a huge fan of Twitter, but it helps me find interesting people -- like you! Sameer Patel DM'd me about your post. <br><br>In online communities, the rule of thumb is that only around 1% are the super users that create most of the content, 9% are somewhat engaged, and 90% passively consume the content. <br><br>Not everyone wants to (or can) write original new content, but everyone can contribute by liking, RTs, etc. All participants are part of the mix, whether or not they are distributing content from a mass media site or writing original content.<br><br>So to meet *my* definition of social, I'd like to see you respond to the people leaving comments on this post. You can even include a link to a major media source, it's ok with me. :)

    Bob Thompson<br>CustomerThink Founder/CEO
  • Global Voices - an exception worth mentioning

    Guess you're not looking hard enough, Tom.
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    You say "goodbye" - I say "hello". I guess you haven't been to the right forums and blogs where the vast majority of conversation is original content. Or perhaps you've been influenced to only look in the places you won't find it...
  • Avoid them all like the Plague...........

    'nough said.
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    As a journalist for a local newspaper, I detest these people "stealing" our content. What will you have to tweet and post when there are no journalists left to collect the news because everyone now "expects" content for free and we cannot get paid?
  • No kidding

    Twitter is, for all intents and purposes is a news feed; a re-packaged RSS feed.

    Before Twitter, RSS feeds were more or less produced by mass media, who "specialized" in reporting news. Everyday people typically did not go through the trouble to set up a XML document to report on their daily lives.

    Enter Twitter. Suddenly, people are reporting on what they had for breakfast or what shop they are currently the "mayor" of. Of course, this is a hobby, so they tweet maybe two or three times a day at best.

    Enter Mass Media on Twitter, with the resources to employ full-time people to tweet all day long. It's no wonder that Mass Media is responsible for approximately 50% of the tweets that show up, daily.

    The Mass Media isn't the gatekeeper of information, but they are certainly the most prolific providers of it.
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    Whoever thought mass media was going away in the first place was living in dreamland. Just as social networking will never go away. What we are getting is an ebb and flow of almagamation of the two. The internet lowers the cost of entry to for people to produce information. I use mass media and i also use blogged media and other media. I will never solely rely on mass media because it is too limited and dishonest. The checks and balances will make both mass media and non-mass media better. Companies may come and go but social media is here forever.
  • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

    Are you suggesting we should accept our Mass-Propaganda Overlords? Seriously - mass-media is nothing but a front to spew out wine for the alcoholic. At least with social media outlets I get news and information to the left side of Fox News and the right side of CNN...
  • Social Media Provising Vital Community Information

    This Humboldt County blog ( is evolving into a vital news source for the scattered community members of this rural northern California county. The blogger provided up-to-date information about recent huge mudslides, bridge problems and murders in the community - information people needed. Her respectful approach incited appreciation for county road workers' efforts to get the highway open ASAP, and compassion for both the victims and friends/relatives of the culprit in the murders I mentioned. This is an innovative home-grown news approach.
    • RE: Goodbye social media... welcome back mass-media

      you asked for examples: "Yet we seem to have convinced ourselves that we are living in the age of ?social media? where citizen journalists are producing tons of great content and upsetting the balance of power in the media world.

      Where? I don?t see it."