Traditional Media’s Role in the Adoption and Survival of Social Media

by Ken Mueller on October 10, 2012 · 8 comments

Tweeting about TV

Last week I wrote about the Next Big Social Network, and how those of us in the business are keeping our eyes open, while the general public really doesn’t care. In fact, most of the general public would be happy if things pretty much stayed the same, with a few dominant social networks. They’re happy with their current use of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

But there are still companies trying to create the next big social network, in hopes of toppling Facebook or one of the other big boys. But right now, we have a few networks that have become entrenched as part of our lives, and we are loathe to change them. They meet a variety of needs and desires, and more importantly, once we get used to something, we really don’t like change. For all the complaining and whining about Facebook, it has been mainstreamed into our lives, and most of us are content to be there. If a new network came along, it would take a lot of time and effort to catch on because we already have so much invested in our social networks of choice.

Facebook has become ubiquitous. Entrenched. A seamless part of our lives.

But the settled nature of the social space isn’t just about how we, as users, have woven it into our everyday lives. It’s also a function of how the traditional media has chosen to weave social media into it’s branding and online/offline presence.

Major television networks have latched on to Facebook, and especially Twitter, and have made it a part of who they are. You can’t watch a news or sports program without seeing or hearing references to Twitter. The tweets and, to a lesser extent, Facebook posts, of celebrities and newsmakers are now news. Social media is the new source for direct access to those who are making the news.

Entertainment shows have created valuable properties on some of these sites, and integrate them into their overall communications and branding strategy. We are urged to connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. In fact Twitter was one of the major avenues for news about the future of Arrested Development, as well as giving viewers the chance to win a walk on role.

And many magazines, particularly those aimed at a primarily female audience, are very active on Pinterest.

On the one hand, traditional media is being rather smart by fishing where the fish are. They are going to the very platforms where they know they can find their audience.

But on the other hand, in a variation of Brian Winston’s Law of the Supression of Radical Potential, traditional media works to further entrench those social platforms in our lives, rather than helping us move on to new platforms. The traditional media has chosen it’s favorite platforms, and by using them, draws new individual users in. This is a big component of the continued adoption of Twitter by the general public as the primary microblogging platform. Some newspapers now include the Twitter handles of their reporters and editors as part of their publication’s masthead.

As we see the media quoting celebrities via Twitter, or encouraging us to share our experience by live tweeting with hashtags, more of us are drawn to that platform. As major media outlets use Facebook as a means of logging in to their site, or as a means of entering a contest, more of us are drawn to that platform. As we are encouraged to pin things on Pinterest, more of us are drawn to that network.

Traditional media are generally late to adopt new technologies and platforms, because of how much they have invested in existing platforms, but once they do adopt, they go all in. I’m not saying Facebook, Twitter, and the others will always be here, but their adoption by traditional media outlets is big. By heavily promoting their use of the major social platforms, they are helping to further entrench them in our lives, ensuring their survival for at least the time being. It lends credibility to those platforms, and as important as the platforms that they are using are the ones they choose not to use. By choosing one over another, they are having a major impact.

One last note: There has been some discussion lately as to the  “new and improved” MySpace which will be launching soon. While the platform disappeared for a few years, it is back with some heavy hitters behind it, and a new business model. I’m not convinced it will go anywhere, but we need to keep an eye on whether or not major traditional media outlets decide to hop on board.

What role have the traditional media played in your adoption and continued use of various social media?

(Photo credit: arcticpenguin)


I think about this a lot. Money and Power change things in technology. Look at what Apple did. They said iPhone would not support Flash. Killing its dominance in the market. Was it the right decision? Certainly for Apple and I believe for the rest of us too. It would have taken longer to adopt the new standard  if Apple had not jumped on the bandwagon so early.

I am wondering if Facebook's recent announcements are going to cause the platform to self-destruct. I am not keen on the idea of paying for personal posts to be seen by my friends. Nor can small business really afford to reach their customers through pages anymore. An exodus of companies leaving Facebook and taking their money to Twitter or Google+ is pretty dangerous for them.


Won't it be interesting to look back on all this in five, ten or 15 years, and see how the once mighty began to fall, and how new players took their place? 

If I had to bet, I'd bet that Facebook won't be that big of a deal ten years down the road. We'll see. 


From a TV perspective, Nielsen has some very interesting stats that show nearly 90% of us use our phones or tablets while we're watching TV. So it makes total sense that traditional media outlet would fish where they fish are. The same study shows the majority are on Facebook during that time. So why not connect what you're watching with your Facebook account? It's Get Glue meets Facebook.

DANG! They really should hire me as a consultant.


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