“Social media” is used to describe a variety of online activities. It’s hip, it’s new, it’s on the Internet, but what is it really?
A useful way to understand social media is to compare it to traditional or industrial media such as newspapers, magazines, television and film.
Industrial media is expensive to produce and it takes skilled people to create it. For this reason, most traditional media is owned by a business or the government. With industrial media, there is a lag from creation to publication or broadcast, and once it is produced it cannot be altered.
The tools of social media can be used by anyone and are available at little or no cost. For this reason, content does not come from an owner; social media content is produced by users who connect to each other through social media Web sites.
There is zero lag from creation to publication, and social media content often can be altered instantly either with comments from its audience or editing by its creators.
A final distinction, which has already impacted the dental industry, is accountability. While slander and libel laws apply to information published on the Internet, the sites hosting this information often remain immune from liability. So if someone publishes negative comments about you on a user review site like Yelp, the Web site is rarely held liable for any negative impact caused by the publication of that review.
This is an excerpt from my July DPR article. Read it all here: