Social Media

Printer Friendly Version


powered by ODEO

Social Media Podcast download


Social Media is a term describing media such as pictures and video clips found on the internet and the ease of which one can use the internet to publish, share and comment on the media. Social Media has several advantages over traditional media, as it is instantaneous, easily shared and global. Demand for social media will only increase as broadband penetration and speeds increase. By controlling portal access and encouraging participation in 'the new media', Vodafone can increase mobile phone usage and revenue.


Social Media is a new term describing the practices of people sharing media online and at the same time sharing opinions on what they have shared. Very often media shared is generated by the people themselves rather than by companies. Media content generated by the person submitting is called user generated content.

Social Media websites are websites that help people to share and comment on media. Thanks to the internet, people can upload and link to content fairly easily. For example, people can upload photos and videos onto the internet for other people to look at with a few clicks on their computer.

Social Media content and websites include:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Social networking websites
  • Wikis
  • Message Boards

As you can see above, social media sites can be considered social networking websites since these websites prompt social interaction and discussion. Social networking websites can also be considered social media websites.

For this topic on social media, we will be covering what is known as the 'Collection type' sites which are centered around collecting one kind of media as I previously defined.

While there are a variety of definitions; I believe there are two essential parts to Social Media:

  • Ease of which one can publish material
  • Ease of which others can interact with the material

The best way to understand what social media is, is to compare the characteristics of social media with previous forms of media such as newspapers and television:

Traditional Media Social Media
Mostly local or national Accessible globally
High cost of production Low cost of production
High cost of distribution Low cost distribution
Requires a publishing company Easy to publish
Hard to change Easily editable
Little choice Too much choice
Slow updates Instantaneous 24/7
Low interaction Encourages interaction
Fixed advertising Variable advertising
Viewer guestimation Viewership tracking
Difficult to archive Easily archived
Easily linkable
Easy to search
Easy to share

Scobleizer's very helpful definition of social media
Dave Brigg's description of social media
Spannerworks on social media


Ask a Ninja

Here's a good example of social media. 'Ask a Ninja' is a video series about asking a "modern day" ninja. Although most episodes are less than 3 minutes long, it is very popular online and one of the most watched series online.

Here's one episode about how to kill a ninja.

Just this particular video clip has

Compared to a television program Ask a Ninja is:

  • Instantaneous - You can watch it straight, you don't have to watch for a certain time or set a tape recorder up.
  • Easily shareable - You can 'embed' the video in a blog or website like I have just done.
  • Easily discussed - Watchers can leave comments instantly and look at what other people have commented
  • Viewership certainty - You know there are over 1.5 million views for this thanks to the tracking system.
  • Interactive - Viewers' questions get turned into future episodes.

Now let's take a look at two social media websites. The first is Digg, a social news website, and the second is Youtube, a video sharing website.


Digg is a social news website. Users sign up to an account and while browsing a net can 'digg' an article.


If an article gets digged enough, then it appears on the front page of the digg website or at the top of its category.


Once dugged users can then share views on this topic.


And if the topic is stale or simply uninteresting you could vote instead to 'bury' it. With enough buries, the article gets removed.



Youtube is a video sharing website. Like Digg, users sign up to an account. Users can then upload video clips and create their own list of favourites. They can also comment and discuss uploaded videos.

Let's take a look at a typical youtube profile from a person who also uploads video.

This displays thumbnails of what videos this user has uploaded:

This box displays the favourites of this person.

This shows how many other users have subscribed to this user's videos.

At the bottom, just like a myspace profile, you can leave comments

Here are a couple of links to other kinds of social media websites:
Flickr - A photo sharing website.
imeem - A music, video and photo sharing website.
Upcoming - An events sharing website.
Digg - News sharing website.
Reddit - News sharing website
StumbleUpon - Website sharing website.
Wikipedia - The online user-created encyclopedia.

Business Possibilities

The growth of social media has been fueled by faster internet speeds, pervasiveness of internet technology and the capabilities of internet technology. People like choice and they love discussing the latest shows. Social media and the internet gives people plenty of variety and the ability to instantaneously comment on them; exactly what they want.

As the internet and the number of internet users increases, we will only see an increase in demand for social media and user generated content. One of the great things about the internet is that content that traditionally would not have been considered cost effective is now able to be published over the internet due to shrinking cost of production, distribution and marketing. One such example is of course Ask a Ninja as shown in the example.

While social media is the new wave of media that is being embraced by the youth of today but it is also subversive and disruptive.

As Dave Briggs notes on his LGNewMedia blog:

The-people-formerly-known-as-the-audience(…)are rapidly migrating away from the old-school mainstream media, away from the centrally controlled and managed model of broadcast media. They are crafting new connections between themselves, out at the edge, and are increasingly ignoring the metered and manipulated messages that centroid organizations — large media companies, multi national organizations, national governments — are pushing at them.

A number of film and television companies feel threatened by the new technology because it is easy to upload clips and shows and hard to police. It is not cost effective for sites to be policing every single upload. Legal battles over copyright are part of this new wave of media. For example, Youtube had a number lawsuits leveled against it because it hosted full television episodes that were still copyrighted.

The media company NBC Universal however, eventually came to an agreement with Youtube where Youtube could hold their media albeit at low quality. Rather than seeing Youtube as someone undermining their copyright and profit, NBC realised Youtube could be used instead as a way of promoting their shows. if a user likes what they see on low quality on Youtube they would probably start watching the show when it is broadcasted or buy the DVD's or merchandise.

It is important for any company, particularly a large company like Vodafone, to be aware of potential copyright issues when promoting or dealing with this new media: social media.

Here's a short business interview by GSINC with Ben Willis, an internet marketer, discussing social media and marketing opportunities:

Here are a number of ways Vodafone can promote itself on the new media:
Branding and Sponsorship
One of the easy ways to become associated with 'the new wave of media' is by sponsorship and branding of existing original successful series like Ask a Ninja or Chad Vader. User generated social media is often inexpensive to produce and a small amount of sponsorship can often go a long way.

Portal Access
By providing access to their favourite social media website, you can promote user to user interaction and user provider interaction. Of course, Vodafone would charge for that access. As an example, Youtube has introduced the ability to browse and watch clips from your mobile. Not only that but you can also upload clips very easily as well.

Viral marketing
Again 'word of mouth' is a very strong of component of success with social media. The fact that everything is easily linkable and shareable means that within moments of releasing an advertisement or Vodafone related application, it can be viewed and shared by thousands. When planning, the most important factor is that it must be something people want to share.

Market research
Feedback, comments and discussion by the viewers are what keep an internet series a float. With the technology of the internet you can track the successfulness of your advertising. This is a good way to test the effectiveness of a marketing idea, concept or new product. Similarly, this also a good way to get customer feedback on what works and what doesn't work for them.

There are many varieties of social media. Who are the adopters of social media and who are the innovators of social media?
For example, audio-only podcasting is still strong but has been replaced by video podcasting. What direction will social media evolve into next?

How integrated is social media in a culture? What is the dominant social media in a culture?
In New Zealand, broadband is still lagging behind the US and Canada and video sharing has only recently gained popularity due in part to decrease in broadband costs. In countries where internet is slower, less bandwidth intensive blogs and photo sharing websites might be dominating.

Social Media is about interaction and freedom from traditional forms of media. Is this 'culture' being promoted?
Media is traditional top down, that is it is produced and then consumed. Social Media is interactive so it is no longer about passively receiving media but commenting and becoming proactive. So the users interact with the producer much more spontaneously and interact with each other. How can Vodafone promote this interaction with the media so as to market effectively to consumers?

How can Vodafone encourage their customers to use of mobile phones to create and interact with social media?
Mobile phone have become more and more sophisticated and many can now take photos and videos. By encouraging users to use their mobile phones to create and share social media, they can easily increase mobile usage demand.

How are improvements in internet technology changing the face of social media?
Social Media was borne on the capabilities of broadband technology. How will wireless broadband technology of future technology affect the popularity and types of social media used in the future?

SEOmoz on Social Media websites and marketing your brand
Copyblogger on Social Media Marketing
Search Engine Land on Social Marketing
Stuntdubl on Social Media Marketing Business to Business
News on Youtube lawsuits and copyright


Social Media describes the new wave of media unlocked by the capabilities of high speed internet. People are now able to publish, share and discuss media much more easily than before. Internet websites such as Digg and Youtube, which that allow users to do just that, continue to be very popular and maintain very active communities. Marketing and advertising with social media involves the traditional methods of branding and sponsorship but has a different focus and theme. As social media is about social interaction between users and between the user and producer of the media, advertising in the same way has to be in some way interactive or unique to attract viewers. As social media is a relatively new and high speed internet is not available to everyone, the favoured kind of social media is prone to change as internet technologies develop and broadband becomes more widely available globally.

Copyrighted Vodafone New Zealand 2007, 2008