Rebuttal: Groupon isn’t social media
Defining social media
Carlee defines social media as using technology
“that enables…join[ing] forces with people that have like interests and harness those similarities for a purpose.”
That is much too broad a definition. The printing press, radio and television were all technologies that enabled like-minded people to join forces with others for a specific purpose. Fox vs. MSNBC and Howard Stern vs. Glenn Beck are just two examples of this. The missing element in Carlee’s description (and the key to social media) is the two-way communication between individuals and the ability for them to create and disseminate information to others.
This distinction in the definition of social media is critical. The masses communicating as individuals is what makes social media what it is. Social networks are the tools that enable it to happen.
My opponent (and friend) refers to Groupon and other like-minded businesses as “deal-sharing communities.” I disagree; where is Groupon’s community? Its mailing list? No. Just because we all receive the same email each morning doesn’t make us a community. Groupon doesn’t facilitate any kind of communication between users, let alone the two-way communication which has come to define social media.
That in and of itself is a huge indicator that Groupon in and of itself is not a form of social media.
To further illustrate my point: a lot of people read the New York Times each day. It’s delivered to their doorstep. They read it. If they find an article particularly interesting they’ll discuss it with their friends. Does that make the New York Times social media?
Content does not a social network make
“Is it the content that makes media social or is it the vehicle through which it is distributed?….Content is king and has been since the inception of advertising.”
While I’d argue the point about content still being king, the answer to her question lies in the question itself: media exists without the means to distribute it. Content always has. We had digital pictures and text messaging long before we had Facebook and Twitter. The part that makes media social is the ability for individuals to share it on a large scale – which comes from the facilitation the networks provide. Groupon is no more social media than an article in the New York times is – they’re forms of content waiting to be shared.
Groupon is an advertising platform + content
Groupon is a way for businesses to advertise to people through email. This isn’t social media. The fact that it encourages and rewards sharing of that advertisement with others isn’t social media. The fact that it keeps track of how many people purchase a particular product and rewards the participants with a good deal doesn’t make part of social media either.
Groupon is an ad platform. It has massive distribution. It creates content. It pushes out that content and hopes that it spreads. So do newspapers, magazines and junk mail. But it lacks the communication between individuals and/or user-generated content that would define it as social media.