In the last 8 years, social media has become an inseparable part of our lives. We use social media via our smartphones, portable devices and laptops. Every hour of every day we connect with other people, make comments, follow favorite brands and even check social media for news. Due to this Social Media has gravely disrupted the Media Sector in the battle between Social Media versus Mass Media.

In 2004 Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly media, introduced the term “WEB 2.0”. The term emphasises the importance of user created content, and enabling users to interact and collaborate with each other. Social Media evolved around this term.

Mass media is about diverse set of technologies that aim to reach a very large audience. Although there are different arguments over what constitutes mass media, but it is acknowledged that the media sector takes-over large parts of it.

There are many forms of social media; There are business networking sites like Linkedin, there are video sharing platforms like YouTube, and there are social networking sites like Facebook, just to name a few.


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Defining difference Social Media versus Mass Media

The most common mistake is to confuse the media sector and mass media.  In this article the term mass media is used in a context only limited to the media sector.

The major difference between mass media and social media is this; the mass media puts the audience in a passive position. Social media puts the audience at the center. People are both the audience and the content creator, it provides a unique experience of social collaboration and social interaction.

Over the last 10 years, social media has become an inseparable part of our lives, every day more and more people are joining social media networks, they create content, interact with each other, and collaborate with each other.

Even brands are on social media, they organise social media marketing campaigns and interact with their existing or potential customers. Still question remains at large which form of media influences the public and shapes the public opinion?



Transforming Towards Social Media

The past century was dominated by mass media, it became the voice of individuals and organisations. It also was a significant force in modern culture, this is often referred as mediated culture by sociologists. This is why the mass media is also known as mainstream media. It produces content based on what majority wants to see and hear.

Media sector have been used to create a public opinion and shape the existing opinion on controversial topics. Its power to create public opinion used in unethical ways.   The mass media was considered as the most effective tool for political propaganda, especially in times of war in order to get more support from the public.

There is also the question of advertisement revenue, since main income of the media sector is advertisement, neutrality of the mass media towards corporations has always been a question of concern.

Over the last 20 years the mass media’s function was disrupted by the internet and when the term web 2.0 introduced it marked a milestone in history of communication.  The internet and its evolution challenged the mass media in a way no one ever imagined.

We are living in an age that anyone can become a journalist. Internet access and mobile devices allows us to become a real time broadcaster, this allows us to communicate, interact and collaborate on a massive scale via social media channels.

Today corporations use social media as much as individuals. A recent Mckinsey survey points out, globally 83% of corporations use at least one social media channel.

Furthermore, 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a twitter account was found in a recent academic research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.

Is the Media Sector Dead?

Answer to this question is a simple “No”.  According to research of iSentia, an international media intelligence group, agenda setting and news consumption is still dominated by the media sector but this is about to change.

The Pew Research Center stated in its 2013 State of the News Media report that quantity and quality of news reported by mass media have been declined. Downsizes in the media industry is the cause of this.  

The Pew Research Center also reports that there is a drastic shift toward online news consumption.  Today more and more people use their mobile devices to read news.

It is important to keep in mind that in social media quality of content is important and much of the high quality content is produced by the mass media but the mass media shares its content via social media.

For example, The New York Times has over 15 million followers on Twitter, 9.2 million likes on its Facebook pages and more than 100 million views on its Youtube channel.

iSentia states on its report that the 24-hour news cycle is dead, we live in an age of ambient news. News and information flow with no single originating point.


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A Unique Opportunity

Social media provides a unique opportunity both for companies and for customers, interacting in real time. Companies and brands can be criticised openly on social media by their customers. Also customers can reach their favorite brands on social media. Internet presence is important but the presence of social media has become crucial for companies and brands.

Social Media is very beneficial and essential for communicating with customers, the number of people that use social media for obtaining the news and information highly increased over the years. Especially young people heavily rely on social media.

Companies that recognize the importance of social media employ content producers. These content producers emphasize the importance of high quality content to create appealing, and stimulate interaction between existing and potential customers and companies.

The main consideration is audience reach and credibility to measure the impact of media content. Low quality content can create a negative image, and scare away potential customers.



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