I don't think this is correct anymore. Social media may have started out as a voice of the people, but now that we've evolved and businesses are involved, it's become much more of an exchange- informational and media based. With the potential for so much growth, "social media" should ensure additional factors are incorporated.
Social media is still about allowing users to have their own voice and allowing people to connect directly with an organisation. But what about the organisation in an ROI sense? Not enough activations in social media pool results together to give businesses solid data about their customers in the context of the business in question. In fact, I don't think enough organisations are thinking about social media outside of a marketing context.
A lot of the tools that have been developed in social media allow businesses the resource to reshape and reformulate purchasing cycles to effectively minimise resource and maximise return. The data stream that can be gathered internally is incredibly valuable. A company has the potential to tailor products and services based on exactly what their customers are asking for. When companies go guns blazing on the YouTube, the Twitter and the Facebook, they lose the potential of taking a well thought out internal approach which can increase sales dramatically.
This type of business change works very well for service based industries, where there is a large exchange of information required from both the individual and the business in terms of what the business offering is. It's a long term initation. For FMCG and the like, it's a lot closer to the existing models- short, sharp promotional activations.
So, the sum of the parts of social media becomes:
- Exchange of interaction/information between consumer and business through some form of a social media engine- here companies can understand what their consumers really want from them.
- Companies analyse data to understand where their customers are headed and isolate areas of the business which can answer these needs
- Businesses reshape offering and resell these back to those interested customers.