©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
I don’t think too many people would argue with the statement that social media is both similar to and different from other media. It has reach comparable to broadcast TV and radio, and frequency like print newspapers used to enjoy. On the other hand it is a “lean-forward” activity and obviously differs from traditional media in including a large proportion of user-generated content. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: you could probably spend a couple hours listing areas of similarities and difference.
But one of the biggest differences, in my mind, is the time scale over which social media marketing takes place — or rather, the time scale over which it will take place. Because really, the practice is still in its infancy: by most measures social media has been around for less than ten years… but it will never go away, meaning we are just getting started. And this in turn makes me wonder if anyone is really prepared to measure the effects of social media on consumer behavior in the long term.