An oxymoron means that two words forming part of a phrase represent opposites or are contradictory. George Carlin popularized Military Intelligence and Jumbo Shrimp as examples of oxymorons. Other somewhat famous ones are Authentic Reproduction, Cautiously Optimistic, Civil Disobedience, Deafening Silence, Detailed Summary, Friendly Fire, Honest Crook, Humane Slaughter, Metal Wood, Tough Love, White Lie and the list could go on and on.
Social Media is another such oxymoron. Media most often is assumed to be mass media such as TV or radio. Social on the other hand implies relationships between individuals. The masses versus individuals – there is the contradiction
The social media scale
You are perhaps unaware of the social media scale since we are introducing it here. The scale is defined by that oxymoronic name really. In a way the two words represent the two extremes of the scale.
At the other end of the scale, we have social media that are online spaces where you can ‘meet’ and interact with others. Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of this. Others will be found to fall between these two extremes. StumbleUpon for example is closer to reddit but does provide for messages between friends.
Where Is Twitter On the Social Media Scale?
The interesting anomaly in all this is Twitter. Twitter itself was very much at the social end of the scale in its genesis. The objective was to let your close followers know your current status. Many still use it that way.
However some participants have abandoned that approach. They seek to get the maximum number of followers by following as many other people as they can. Since some people have arranged that automatically they will follow anyone who follows them, this approach can almost allow you to create your own mass medium.
If you want to check out some data on people using Twitter in this way, check out the TwitterScore website. More specifically check out the Top Users. There are some very famous names there and also some top agencies such as CNN and the BBC. Scrolling down you will see some people who clearly have worked hard to create an audience for themselves. At # 200 at the moment, for example, you have Jonathan Nafarrete, who is “Just some guy. Photographer and social media consultant” and who has 63,553 followers.
The fact that Twitter is both social and a mass media is perhaps why many people are having a difficulty knowing how best to be involved.
For a confirmation that Twitter is hard to classify on the social media scale, you may wish to read: New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets. For suggestions on how to work with social media of whatever type, try ‘With A Little Help From My Friends‘.