Online social media is an interesting phenomenon. Many companies working outside of the information technology arena are still having a hard time getting their arms around it.
One way that may help is to think of this as a space where a company can tell its own stories, in its own voices, unfiltered by the priorities, agendas and gaps in knowledge and context that are sometimes present among professional journalists.
The media, by it’s nature, “mediates” information on behalf of its common audience. (The common Latin root “medius” is no coincidence.) Online spaces, particularly those characterized as “social media”, provide companies natural vehicles to carry their own voices and stories to publics whose priorities or focal points may not line up precisely with the common audience served by journalists.
So, in effect, these spaces provide a media space that is unmediated by third-parties; thus the somewhat self-contradictory notion of “unmediated” media.
Note that I say this space allows for company “voices”, not “voice”. The price of entry for companies in this space is authenticity. That comes from individual voices. They may speak in harmony, but they cannot speak in an authoritative, opaque, singular voice.
When you think of it, can a company really have a single voice? It may have a single vision, a strategy, an underlying ethic, a culture. But with its many audiences, products, issues, it will sing with thousands of voices. A company’s song is one built of the harmonies of a chorus, not the solitary wail of a diva.
(Posted by Ray Jordan)