Categorized | Consumer Behavior

Who Are the Social Media Citizens?

optimisationI’ve been conducting interviews with Social Media Citizens for a last couple months in order to understand better what social media means for different people working in different parts of the world in different sides of the industry and before moving on to the new series with updated question I want to take some time off to analyse a few answers. So this week there are no interviews – just plain analysis.

Who Are the Social Media Citizens?

I thought that there is no greater way to define this term than to hear the opinion of the top social media influencers about it. And that’s what they had to say:

  • “We are all citizens of the world of social media. Whether implicitly or explicitly, our mediated lives have changed and whether or not you are an active participant in social media channels, you are in fact, a participant. – Adam Broitman
  • A Social Media Citizen is an open minded individual looking to engage and collaborate across the digital sphere. They will give more than they take and always look to develop themselves and their relationships. – Chris Hall
  • ‘Someone who contributes to the value of the Social Media space.’ This is really more to do with the nature of the social objects they share in the space rather than the connections they have. – Richard Sedley
  • Somebody who realizes that social media is a part of their lives every day, for business or personal, or both. – Jim Kukral
  • Someone who connects and engages on social platform – a member of our social community! – Maggie Fox
  • A Social Media Citizen is someone who adds relevant, compelling information to a conversation, and genuinely helps and affects others in a positive way. – Joe Pulizzi
  • A Social Media Citizen is someone who helps new and existing users of social media to reach their full potential through education, advice, guidance and leading by example.Chris Tompkins
  • A Social Media Citizen is someone that goes beyond just understanding the technology and benefits. A social media citizen is someone that really understands how to give value to others and small talk as well as “getting” that social media is not a one night stand but a long term relationship. – David Siteman Garland
  • The perfect SMC is a digitally savvy connector of people, leveraging connections and community help people / business’ thrive and understand their market. – Barry Furby”

Maybe it is a bit odd term, but at the end of the day it’s just the name for social citizens who spend their time and energy in exploring the new reality of being social.

Why there is a word “media” in the term? Even though I understand that we are all social human beings and we all by nature are social, social media is quite specific environment with its own culture, etiquette, rights and responsibilities. We are all without any exceptions are still learning how to be social online.

Eventually, when the lines between offline and online worlds blur indefinitely and everyone accept the reality of tomorrow and adapt to the code of conduct, maybe I will be able to use just the term social citizens, but at the moment I can’t. I still don’t feel that, there is still plenty of people and companies who don’t get it or are simply afraid of it (sometimes for the right reasons). It will take quite some time, education starting at schools and training for digital immigrants to fully adapt to this shift but it will happen. We all will have to learn how to live in extremely social world. But until then here is my definition what I call a social media citizen:

The Social Media Citizens – are the social citizens who enable the social digital technology to work for them in order to facilitate the normal (offline) everyday life and business activities.

Social Media Citizens often but not necessarily share these characteristics:

  • They have a passion for sharing and adding value;
  • They are the community minded participants;
  • They are connectors of people;
  • They have a strong admiration for openness and transparency.
The Rights and Responsibilities of Social Media Citizens

As I’ve wrote about this in my other post The Future of Social Networks, after the wild freedom on the web people are starting to embrace the idea that the digital world is no different to the real world (or it’s just an extension of a real one), with same right, liabilities and freedoms. If we want to become diverse social citizens we will have to learn how to protect and implement our rights and responsibilities online.

Sharing: We will have to protect our freedom of speech and the rights to share information freely without a huge government involvement, as what is happening with WikiLeaks or social media censorship in countries like China or Iran is not acceptable. Although this right will come with liability to share responsibly and fight against illegal content online, which may be potentially harmful (terrorism and etc.). There is no way that governments themselves will be able to collect and control such vast amounts of info without any participation from their fellow citizens. Probably, setting up some sort of crowdsourced databases or projects will be a way forward.

Privacy: We will have to learn how to protect our online privacy and respect others. It probably will come with the time, as the culture of sharing is still developing and people are still experimenting with different type of content and different type of messages, but eventually we will have a code of conduct which will be pretty similar to our offline world and will be based on our common sense.

Online etiquette: We also will have to learn what to share; when to share and how to share in order to present ourselves in the way we want to be presented. We will have to transfer our literacy knowledge and our social norms to avoid any misunderstandings online.

Well I guess Social Media Citizens will have to learn how to integrate social and cultural values into the online world in order to have unbroken social experience in their everyday and business lives.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 111 posts on Social Media Citizens – Interviews with social media influencers from around the world.

Giedrius Ivanauskas is the founder/editor of Social Media Citizens and co-founder of Social Marketing Forum. He also blogs on Social Media Today and Socialemailmarketing.eu. Giedrius is a managing partner at Nearby Digital - location focused social media marketing agency and is passionate explorer of Augmented Reality, Startups and anatomy of Inspiration. He curates inspiration database - Inspirisimo.You can follow Giedrius on Facebook or Twitter

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