Social Media: One-to-Many-to-Many-to-One

I see a lot of people trying to explain "social media" to companies. The verbage of choice has become a WOM favorite: "authentic one-to-one communication." Seems reasonable, right? I'm not so sure anymore. Much of social media-- the social technologies we use to create and distribute content and the content itself-- is a one-to-many conversation. Take Twitter or even Facebook's feeds, these are one-to-many conversations in which a user's explicit or implicit actions are broadcast to an affinity community of networked users.

I started thinking about the fallacy of the "one-to-one" concept when discussing Twitter one night (at Teany, I believe?) with @fimoculous. He was fascinated by the conversational broadcasting of Twitter (this is NOT a Twitter post, promise)...and yada yada...this dialogue made me realize its true. Social media is not me conversing with you, its me conversing with You. Its been said that "social media is predicated on a system of sharing content authentically, one-to-one." Not true! Its a system predicated on sharing content one-to-many in an exponential fashion.

I have often said that the beauty of social media marketing is that it creates a Multiplicity Effect. WOM becomes exponentialized and tangential when distributed through a social techno-ecosystem. You can reach both top tier "influencers," and tap into the long tail of consumers in disparate communities and niches across the internet.

One-to-many, however, in social media is not the same as the one-to-many model of traditional media (television, print); there of course is a reciprocity in social media. So, with that in mind, it may be best to view social interactivity as One-to-Many-to-Many-to-One!

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