1An Introduction to the Social Media Landscape

Once upon a time, anyone could be a media publisher. All you needed was several million dollars, a team of editors and writers, a printing press capable of shooting out a dozen copies a second, and a distribution network that would put your publication in stores across the country.

Unless, of course, you wanted to go into radio or television. In that case, things were just a little harder.

The result was that information came down from on high. We didn't talk among ourselves, and we weren't part of the conversation; we were talked to by writers, editors, and producers who controlled the conversation. If we liked what we were reading, we kept tuning in, and the publishing company made money.

If we didn't like it, we stopped buying the magazine, or we switched channels. Advertisers turned away, and all the millions of dollars the publication took to create disappeared.

Today, it's all very different. It now costs as little as nothing more than time to create great content and make it available for other people to enjoy. That low cost means that it doesn't matter if millions or even thousands do not read it if your target market is smaller or nascent. The rise of social media means you can profitably focus on even tiny markets—such as stamp collectors in Mozambique—and still find enough people to form an online community and profit through advertising and product sales.

The buzzword for this rise of small and micro communities, as ...

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