More and more people consume social media and pay less attention to traditional media, such as TV, radio or newspaper. But structure-wise, which are the main differences and which benefits has social media? What can it deliver what traditional media cannot?
First of all, social media have a social interface, which is the basic software infrastructure (Adler, Rodman, & Sévigny, 2015). This means that users are interconnected and content from one user is potentially available to an infinite number of other users. For example, most Twitter users have no restrictions in their settings, so their profile and tweets can be seen by the whole online world. The further development of online networks, such as the milestone of “Web 3.0”, enables users to be connected to whole online communities.
Secondly, social media makes communication globally accessible to its’ users. No matter if you log into your Facebook account from a computer in Canada, Denmark or Australia, your social network and global communication sources within Facebook are available to you. Traditional media was always limited in that way, for a certain reason: individual consumers have limited influence on gatekeepers (Adler, Rodman, & Sévigny, 2015). Also, on social media you can create an impact by a single post, which then can have a big reach when it is shared by the right people. In traditional media, you can write a letter to or call a newspaper publisher, but they are in the position of power and can decide if they take your complaint or feedback seriously.
Thirdly, social media is instantaneous and flexible: Posts can be deleted or edited all the time. If there is a spelling error in your post, you can still change it. That is different for newspapers. Once a circulation is printed and distributed, it cannot be edited anymore.
Adler, R. B., Rodman, G., & Sévigny, A. (2015). Understanding Human Communication. Don Mills: Oxford University.