Just stumbled over this recent post by Mark Earls, who boldly states that “Social networks are not channels for advertisers or for the adverts/memes you, your clients or any of your so-called “influentials” create, social networks are for all of the people who participate in the network.” source: http://bit.ly/d8rDIR. He continues by stating that “Social networks are not best understood as channels down which folk send things; social networks are webs from which members pull down learning (from each other)”.
Kind of made me think. From an idealistic perspective of course Mr. Earls is right, the social network is for the people because they ARE the content and what drives the network. Without people there wouldn’t be a network. And of course we learn from others in the network, but that isn’t necessarily an argument against also viewing social networks as a channel. People share and send information through channels, if no one shared we wouldn’t be able to learn. Furthermore, people use social media as a vehicle/resource for showing who they are (or who they want to be) hence, the social network becomes a facilitator or “channel” for expressing identity. Whether, social media is a channel for advertisers? From my perspective – Yes – but only to the extent that the brand aids people in their personal identity projects. The role of the brand in contemporary consumer culture is that of a “cultural resource” useful to the consumer as an ingredient to produce or reveal the self as one chooses – that also counts on social networks.