7 key differences between Social Media and Traditional Media

Social Media vs Traditional MediaIt is so easy to recognize a newspaper, a television or a radio. You have grown up with them. So, you can recognise them as Traditional Media.

But what about Social Media? How many of us can define Social Media or recognise its different forms?

The name that comes to our mind when we talk of Social Media is Facebook. Some will add Twitter, and some YouTube. These are the most recognisable “faces” of Social Media.

But what is Social media and how is it different to Traditional Media?

You get a better idea of Social Media if you break the term into its two components: social and media. The ‘social’ part comes from people interacting with each other. And the ‘media’ part comes from the platforms that make these interactions possible.

These platforms share some common characteristics, based on which they can be grouped in six clear categories.

(Read Social Media can be organized in 6 clear categories)

Traditional Media vs Social Media

# Difference 1
Creation and dissemination of content: Traditional Media is based on the principle of one-to-many. An Editor decides what is news; which news reports should be published in the day’s newspaper or which reports should be telecast in the next bulletin. The news consumers, that is the readers and viewers, have no role to play in the creation or dissemination of content.

Social Media, in contrast, is a media that works on the principle of many-to-many. Any individual can create and share content. This makes the content creation process more democratic.

# Difference 2

Focus or purpose: Social Media, as the name suggests, is a media where people come to interact with friends, relatives, acquaintances etc. It need not be news-based. In fact, a very small part of the Social Media universe is devoted to creation or dissemination of news.

The Traditional Media is primarily a news media. It has traditionally performed the function of gathering and disseminating news, and continues to do so.

That is why the two media are like chalk and cheese.

# Difference 3

Interactivity: Social Media allows users to comment on content created by their friends, relatives or peer group. There is no Big Brother blue pencilling comments. All comments are in real time. They enrich published content, and empower people to share views.

The Traditional Media is tightly patrolled. All communication is one-way: from the editor to the readers. The most that a reader can hope is to get a letter published in the Letters column of the newspaper. There is, of course, no guarantee as to how much of the letter will be edited before it is published. This interactivity is even more limited in the case of television.

# Difference 4

Convergence: Social Media is a truly convergent media. You can publish content as text, audio, video, graphics or photographs on Social Media sites.

The Traditional Media can work in only one format – either as print or as radio or as television. There is no convergence in the Traditional Media space.

# Difference 5

Speed: Social Media is instant. Reports published on Social Media sites can be accessed instantly.

Traditional Media takes time to disseminate information. In the case of newspapers, this is limited to once a day; television or radio can update reports more frequently. But they cannot match the speed of Social Media unless they go live.

# Difference 6

Cost of creation: It costs a small fortune to set up a newspaper, radio or television station. Few individuals can therefore hope to become publishers.

Social Media platforms allow free posting of content. Anyone can therefore become a publisher or broadcaster.

# Difference 7

Reach and numbers: The reach of Social Media is staggering. It connects billions of individuals across the globe.

In contrast, the reach of traditional media is limited to the number of readers or viewers that individual newspapers or channels may have.

Differences between Traditional Media and Social Media

Traditional Media vs Social Media

Social Media vs Traditional Media

(Note: If you know more differences, please add them in the Comments section.)

About Sunil Saxena 10 Articles
Sunil Saxena is an award winning media professional with over three decades of experience in New Media, Social Media, Mobile Journalism, Print Journalism, Media Education and Research. He incubated the award-winning Gaon Ki Awaaz, India’s first voice-based news and information service for rural India that won two South Asian awards and one National award for innovation. Sunil has authored three media books that are referred texts in most Indian Universities. His current passion is Social Media, and its integration with industry and traditional media. Among other things he is keenly interested in content management, website development, social media consultancy, development of mobile content and media training.

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