Social media = shared media


It isn’t social unless it’s shared.

I came across the phrase “for anything to be social, it must be shared” on JP Rangaswami’s blog today, which is a lovely meandering, insightful post and worth a read for its own sake.

That’s quite a useful way of thinking of the alchemical moment when content is transmuted into social media. It is the moment it is shared.

Shared, not spread. Spreadable media like viral videos is something you think about when you dehumanise networks, when you look at them as odd little organic conglomerations that you want your marketing message to spread through.

And you really don’t want to dehumanise networks – that’s when it all goes wrong…

The consequence of dehumanising social networks is that you create rubbish for them. Rubbish content, rubbish campaigns that you would think poorly of yourself, your partner, your best friend, if they shared it with you in your Facebook feed, email inbox or whatever.

You create it because you’re creating something for an audience you don’t really understand and don’t care about enough to find out about them, apparently. You just want them to spread the stuff, “Like” the stuff, retweet it to high heaven… You want the numbers, without the humanity.

“Social = shared” also reminded me of someone from one of the brands I admire most in digital, who says that in his team they quite often find themselves talking about “shared media”, a category apart from the Paid / Owned / Earned Media model which caught the imagination of the marketing industry a couple of years ago.

Shared media. Not ours, not theirs: shared.

Shared media works for me right now because it reminds you that you don’t own any of this – the spaces, the content, the attention – you are sharing it all with other people. And if you are doing anything really worthwhile it will be shared.

Sharing stuff is a mark of humanity. A mark of quality. A signal that something – an idea, a space, a network – is actually alive.


Via Adam Tinworth.


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