Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is it really social media if …

A recent move by an online site/service that has received many accolades for being a great “social media tool” for PR professionals and journalists recently underwent an upgrade. (Caveat: There are some who say the tool, while enormously helpful, never embodied the true meaning of social media because it did not include a way for community members to communicate with each other as a group. Please feel free to debate that point, as well, in the comments section of this post, though it's not the direct topic.) Now, let me just say that I’m all about making products, services, social media tools, etc., better; however, the recent upgrade to this service left me a little bit baffled.

The particular service in question helps reporters find sources. In the “1.0 version,” the site sent out emails that included what story a reporter was working on and the reporter’s contact information. The new version – and those of you familiar with the service can debate amongst yourself whether or not it’s truly improved – now masks reporters’ email addresses and instead provides end users with temporary email addresses that stop working after a query deadline is reached.

Which left me wondering…

Is it really social media if the site/service not only keeps its users from knowing who one another are and how to reach each other but stymies future contact between its members? Isn’t the whole point of social media to facilitate conversation? And does this “cloaked email” feature prevent the spirit of social media from being realized?

Weigh in below with your thoughts.

UPDATE: For those of you who know the service I'm talking about, if you have any issues with the new service, make sure you express them at the service's GetSatisfaction site.

1 comment:

Serena said...

Great post! While the world cringes at the phrase "social media guru" these same people seem to embrace anyone who uses the term "social media tool"

It is not social media because it resolves an issue.

It is not social media because it has a website

It is not social media because you can sign up for an email blast

Social media tools and platforms are meant to encourage collaboration and co-working. Google Wave, while not a great product, is a social media tool. Twitter is a SM tool. Facebook even.

But a 3x a day blast email of reporter queries? We call that email marketing.