Old vs. New Media: What Matters Today?



For businesses and agencies that were once (or are still) involved in ‘old media’–newspapers, magazines, print publications, et al.–it may seem that the transition to ‘new media’–i.e. social media–would be easy.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. As old media continues dying out, old media houses and businesses struggle to adapt to today’s changing world. So while these businesses most certainly need to be on social media, their skillsets don’t necessarily always translate fluently into the dynamic world of social media.

That’s not to say that practitioners of old media can’t adapt to social media. Old media skills can be adapted to new, social media in order to become more useful in the digital age. But doing any of those things first requires an understanding of how social media differs from old media.

Social media is unlike old media in a few key ways. Unlike old media, social media is:

  • Two-way: Gone are the days of publishing content and having limited responses from readers. Before, responses to businesses came in the form of filtered testimonials and letters to the editor. Today, all a customer needs to do is get on social media and direct a comment their way.

Social media has given everyone a megaphone, and that means that businesses need to be prepared for two-way communication if they want to succeed in today’s world.

  • Grassroots: Much more than any other time in history, media today is highly decentralized. Instead of big publishing houses and ad agencies as the predominant source of information, consumers have taken things into their own hands and crowdsourced news and information through platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

You’re not dealing with a few handfuls of big companies that can publish–you’re dealing with millions of people with that capability. Big news today often comes from the ground up–not the other way around.

On social media, quantity of content plays a large part in the success of businesses–those who publish the most will often end up on top–and that means that every project just doesn’t have to be perfect. Although the adage of quality over quantity does ring true in some cases, it’s important not to let perfection be the enemy of the good on social media.

  • Hyper competitive: Finally, due largely in part to the decentralization of social media, business on social media also happens to be hyper-competitive. Except in very rare instances (I’m looking at you, Apple), it’s just not possible to get by on a name only. You may be a big business, but in the world of social media, being early to the game is very important. Businesses need to be prepared for competition if they want to find success online.

Anyone can succeed at social media with strategy and a lot of hard work. But for those who are most familiar with the old media age, a recognition of the fact that new media is distinctly different than any other marketing medium is an essential first step to success in the digital era.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: John Darwin

John is a recent college graduate from Creighton University. He earned his B.A. in English, specializing in British Literature, and is currently working as an editor at Social Media Contractors.

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