I love nothing more than a good, hearty debate. David argues that deal-sharing sites like Groupon are not social media. As stated previously, I disagree. I’m glad our audience could think that David was right for a full day, because I’m about to blow your mind with this rhetoric! OK seriously, here are my thoughts on the subject:
As stated in the title of my short diatribe, Groupon was founded on the very principles that make social media, well, social; Groupon and other deal-sharing communities (don’t forget that phrase, it will rear its ugly head again) operate under the principal that you are able to join forces with people that have like interests and harness those similarities for a purpose. Does this sound familiar? Ever joined a group or a fanpage on Facebook? Same principle. A group of people deeming a “cause” worthy enough to join forces and show their support. While the execution varies, I would submit that your motivations for joining said group or fanpage were similar to why people use deal-sharing communities: incentive.
You may be wondering why motivation matters. I take a Freudian approach to this and say that our behavior is caused by underlying motives and these motives, therefore, determine our actions. . . I’m kidding. It matters because I say it does. My point is that the basic structure of Groupon is the same as other social media sites, from Twitter to Facebook – using technology as a touch point with people that have some connection with you – whether it be as vague as pertinent as blood relatives or as important as Social Media Clubs, it’s all the same – to create a community with a cause. Groupon simply requires less public interaction with the other parties by not requiring a public display of your commonalities. But I still rely on the interaction of others to receive my incentive. Without the “group”, I have nothing.
David states that Groupon doesn’t allow him to create/share/distribute anything and therefore, it isn’t social media. I would disagree with that. Groupon and others EXIST because of distribution. If getting a good deal wasn’t enough, Groupon wants you (as the user) to distribute their content so badly that if you do and someone else picks up the same deal, they pay you for it. Not only do they want distribution but they encourage it through monetary means.
I appreciate what AverageBen says about parasites and the throw back to my Algebra class – “Isolate the variable”. I think his argument has a lot of legs. . . strong, marathon-runner-type legs at that. I just wonder how much any of the social media platforms would thrive as “stand –alone” hosts? There is a reason that they cross-promote and create apps and integrations for each other: regardless of how the message gets out, they want it out. There is a reason all of the Facebook email defaults are set to “yes please!” and why Foursquare is fully integrated in Facebook and Twitter. Facebook may survive as a stand-alone entity but certainly wouldn’t THRIVE without the help of email, Twitter and the whole laundry list of integrations that have been developed.
All of this really stems back to one thing: Is it the content that makes media social or is it the vehicle through which it is distributed? I argue that content is king and has been since the inception of advertising. Groupon and other deal –sharing communities (man, I love that word) distribute content that only works when the masses are involved. And in the great style of news journalists everywhere, I return to my original question: What part of “group” seems unsocial to you?