I wrote last week about ‘Broadcasting Social Media‘, and how many conferences are a contradiction in terms when their content is about Social Media, but they have no social interaction or discourse – just speakers broadcasting a social message.

This got me thinking. If you can broadcast social, then that says something about the channel that is used, and the content that is delivered through the channel. Is it the case, then, that you can have social content delivered through a social channel? Or can you have broadcast content delivered through a social channel?

Taking Pine and Gilmore’s Authenticity (affiliate link) and their Real Fake Matrix as inspiration, I’ve thr0wn together a first draft of a Social Broadcast Matrix. Lo and behold:


First, Some Definitions

People seem to be having problems with defining Social Media – which is to be expected in an emergent industry. I think if we see Social Media as a progession of Broadcast Media, then that helps. Consider:

Broadcast is one way. It is static. It does not change according to new information.

Social is multiway. It is dynamic. It changes according to new information.

Broadcast channels and content are therefore one way. They push, and by definition, a broadcast goes from one point out to many points. Social channels and content are multi way. They push and pull, and can adapt according to the pull. As opposed to broadcast, social starts from many points, and goes to many points, whilst changing as each point contributes.

Broadcast channels and social channels are mutually exclusive, as are broadcast content and social content. However the channels and content are not mutually exclusive – in fact, they marry together – meaning we can have a hybrid effect, where by the Channel is Social, but the Content is Broadcast.

Let’s get into some examples as we look at at point of the matrix:

Broadcast Social

This is what started my post last week. Imagine you are talking about Social Media to a group of people. The content is Social – it is not only about Social Media, but the content itself has been formed through crowd sourced efforts (as all Social Media content is being ultimately created in a share collaboration that spans the whole Social Media sphere.)

When this content is delivered through a keynote address, despite the content being social, it is actually broadcasted. The keynote is a broadcast – one point to many (as I describe in Person-to-People), and the keynote structure does not change according to the audience. It is Broadcast Social.

Or consider Reality TV. The content is social – it is dynamically generated, crowdsourced, and made from many points. But when we watch it on TV, this social content is being broadcasted to us. It’s also the same with Talk Radio.

Even blog posts are social content that is broadcast. But that’s controversial… :-)

Social Broadcast

Consider a company that wants to take it’s existing broadcast content – press releases, for example – and push them on a social channel. This is Social Broadcast, and it is essentially the misuse of Social Media.

What else falls into this bracket? Facebook Pages that are used by organisations that push out status messages linked to a blog. Twitterfeeds that publish RSS feeds into a Twitter stream. They are both broadcast content delivered through a social channel.

This can also extend to panels at an event. A panel is a social channel (multiway, dynamic, push and pull), however if the panel have decided to broadcast their content, then we have another misuse of Social Media.

Broadcast Broadcast

TV, magazines, radio, and even brochure websites are broadcast both in channel and content. Nothing new here!

Social Social

When both the channel and the content are social, we enter this fourth and final realm. Social Networks like Facebook, when used by the average user, are Social Social. The whole site (channel) is continually changing according to the content. Remove the social content, and the social channel doesn’t exist.

Or consider Unconferences. The channel is again continaully changing according to the content. What people want to discuss, gets discussed, and the channel morphs accordingly. Remove the content, and the channel doesn’t exist. This is similar to a 21st century rendering of ‘the medium is the message, but it has now become, in the case of Social Social, that: the channel is the content.

Overlaps and the Divide

Let’s go back to my assertion that blog posts are Broadcast Social. In the model, I then list blog comments as being Social Social. So then where does a blog fit, as a whole, in this model? Or where do events fit in this model, given that I’ve put panels and keynotes in separate quarters?

I believe that this model reveals a few core axioms that help us answer these questions:

  1. None of these dimensions (Broadcast Social, Social Broadcast, Broadcast Broadcast and Social Social) are wrong or right. They just are.
  2. Each of the dimensions can assist each other.
  3. The combined effect of these dimensions renders the media as either Broadcast or Social.

You’ll notice that through the model there is a orange divide the sections half off as Broadcast and half as Social. The combined effect of a media’s dimensions (some of which are Broadcast Social and some Social Broadcast, etc) positions it either as Broadcast or Social.

Let’s take events as an example. Whilst their are keynotes that are Broadcast Social (which as per axiom 1, is not wrong or right), there may also be an unconference element, which is Social Social. This means the event is Social, and not Broadcast. However if you remove the unconference elements, and there is more broadcast activity than social activity, we find we have a Broadcast event.

Blogs can also be looked at in this way. The fact that there is Broadcast Social (the posts) and Social Social (comments) renders the blog as Social.

Further Thinking

I’ve got a lot of thoughts about where this could go – but given I’ve already written a little too much – let’s just bullet point them and add to them in the comments:

  • What are the benefits to each dimension? (i.e. Broadcast Broadcast grants you direct reach with little room for detractors)
  • What are the negatives? (i.e. Social Social requires a lot of leadership can can enter mob rule)
  • How can an entity use each of these dimensions to create a multi-dimension event, providing the benefits of each? (like an event)
  • How does an entity move from one dimension to the next? (i.e. TV moved into reality TV. Is this a pattern for others?)

Already having typed these, my mind is whirling around with ideas – some around the Nestlé issue and how that is a result of Social Broadcast. Would this of happened if Nestlé had just stayed to Broadcast Broadcast?

If you’ve got this far, then go one step further, and put down some ideas into the comments below so we can form this together.


Archived Comments

  • http://beaconhillnw.com Jim Gray

    love the “social is multi-way”

  • / Scott Gould

    Yeah – when people say “two way” that immediately makes me think, “what?”

  • http://www.randelldesign.com/ Randy Dunning

    Strikes me that most businesses are so steeped in the broadcast paradigm that even when they attempt social channels they still naturally broadcast their content (social broadcast). This is a cultural thing for many businesses (especially those larger & older) that won’t be overcome until they experience the power of social channels. That experience can be either positive (Ford) or negative (Nestlé). But I don’t think that a matrix like yours will be initially understood without this experience. After a powerful experience, good or bad, they’ll more likely not just understand it but begin to embrace it.

    Yea or nay?

  • / Scott Gould

    Hi Randy

    Thanks for adding your thoughts to the table.

    I agree – company won’t look at the matrix and see where they need to
    be. This is a tool that helps those of us who understand (or willing
    to understand) where things are placed

    The trick is then to use this information (knowing which dimension you
    are in) to move forward and better your efforts, refine your stance,
    and enhance your offerings.

    Yes, a lot of companies will not be the ones wanting to do this- but
    they will respect expert opinion, and if the right motivational cue is
    hit through some other means, then this matrix is a good place to
    identify where they are at

    Would you concur? Perhaps you are working with some companies now so
    you have a clearer understanding than I do on their challenges?



  • randydunning

    I completely concur. This is an excellent place to begin a discussion (with interested parties) that will help a company or organization define where it currently lies with regard to the broadcast/social matrix.

    The “get it done” aspect of many company cultures and sales cultures wants to make a foray into social because they feel that train is a comin’ and they’ve gotta jump on. But if they neglect the necessary time and attention to “get it right” (i.e. develop a deeper understanding of the nature of social channels and content) they’ll probably commit a gaffe (or a series of them).

    Then the opportunity arises to step in and educate because their experience has hopefully provided the valuable context necessary to view the matrix with greater openness and clarity.

    The businesses I work with are all over the map (er, matrix). Some are increasingly embracing social channels and content. Some are very reluctant to even dip their big toe in the water.

  • / Scott Gould

    Totally. There must be a careful approach – but there must be an approach!

    I know it’s been discussed time and time again, but what approach with these companies do you think works best?

  • randydunning

    Culture is one of the hardest things to change in all the world – be it social culture, organizational culture or personal culture (individual thinking and habits). And when we’re talking about organizations embracing social channels and content, of course we’re also talking about changing culture – difficult stuff.

    Therefore one approach to such change is to see a small part of an organization embrace and develop a social aspects of their communication, thereby being the pioneers for the rest to follow.

    Example: I’m working with a home appliance mart that has an old-school sales culture. Getting the sales staff and managers to even consider employing social networks is silly. They are completely broadcast oriented.

    But the manager of the AV department thinks differently and is eager to embrace tweeting and blogging, hosting small events and demos, making connections and building deeper relationships.

    We’re believing that the different philosophical approach (the more social approach) will be very effective. Then, once a respected leader in social media is established inside the company and is able to serve as advocate and coach, we are hoping his dpt. becomes the catalyst for culture change company-wide.

    Further thoughts from you and others?

  • / Scott Gould

    Randy – thanks for drawing out more discussion here!

    Culture is what it’s down to – I agree. I find most of culture can be changed by language. I work hard with my church to carefully construct the language that I use, as does the rest of our leadership team. What this means is there is a group of use using the same, chosen language.

    We have saying: culture by design, or culture by default?

    We try to be the first!

    Becoming Social in this matrix is a cultural thing. It requires you to think differently about your assets, how you engage, etc

  • randydunning

    “I find most of culture can be changed by language.”

    Flesh out this statement even more if you would (might make for a great blog post) – and when you have time.

    Would it be accurate to say that if better terminology is used, it will then need to be defined and explained, thereby creating deeper understanding and higher expectations within the culture of your organization?

  • / Scott Gould

    Yes I’ve alredy written about this idea somewhere. I need to refresh it with the new experience and insights I’ve had.

    I think language gives you deeper understanding and high expectations – but also when you use one word you are omitting another – like when I say Spreadability I am choosing to not say Reach

  • joepine

    Scott, the more I look at this, the more I think it corresponds to our Real/Fake Matrix, with Social as Real and Broadcast as Fake. We also use the word “modes” to describe the four resulting quadrants, and say that companies can render authenticity in each mode, even the Fake-fake. (For if we don’t like it, it’s fake. But if we do like it, it’s faux!)

    Do think about it.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you very much for stopping by!

    The more I think about this too, I think it does correspond. I’m still getting my head around exactly how – and considering the two parts of the Polonius test, how they relate to Channel and Content.

    Of course I don’t think I can put this in the book I’m working on – it would just be authenticity 2.0!

  • / Scott Gould


    After an evening of going through Authenticity again to get an answer, I’ve finally seen what I think is the resolution, which you emailed me about but I’ve just ‘got it’. I know I’m repeating what you’ve been saying, but here it is, finally coming from my mouth!

    This is about rendering authenticity. My whole post is discussing the fact there is the real and the fake, and that people were ‘Broadcasting Social’, or rather ‘Faking Reality’.

    Broadcast is perceived as fake
    Social is perceived as real

    The Social / Broadcast Matrix sits on top of the Real / Fake Matrix – it is essentially an add-on that explains real/fake in a communications context.

    So the actual discussion here isn’t about Social or Broadcast – it is about Real or Fake – it goes right to your matrix. Mine is just a filter to understand it, as I said, in a comms context.

    We can then apply your methodology (go faux / create belief / reveal the unreal / get real) to render any of the Social / Broadcast modes as more authentic.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nic.mepham Nic Mepham

    Great. I read this & want to change your slogan. A thinking blog for proactive people perhaps :-) Keep up the questioning. Is that answer enough to the idea of me commenting? Hmmm….now I had better go & speak with myself or someone else, oh goodness me, think I had better share it with people thinking about sharing ideas like this with me, or you, or whom, where, when?….bzzzz…crack….buzzz….over…roger….out

  • Karl Rawstrone

    The fake/real thing reminds me of what Bill Nichols talks about in ‘Representing Reality’ – the perceived axial connection between the viewer and the content. In documentary, there *is a perceived axial connection – the viewer assumes that the world on screen is their world. In fictive film the viewer perceives that there *is not an axial link between their world and the representation of ‘reality’.
    I think this is connected to broadcast/fake and social/real.
    Nichols’ upshot is that in the ‘fake’ relationship, the real ethical relationship with the representation is displaced by an eroticised one (such as watching the zombies get torn up for ‘fun’ he examples). In the real relationship, the ethical relationship with what is depicted remains consistent with real life ethics. (The eg he uses is of a documentary depiction of the dissection of a human body – not fun).
    I wonder if this relationship stands when thinking about social media – just thinking about abusive comments on YouTube, the effect of digital virtual identities. I’m not sure that calling ‘social’ ‘real’ stands that test. (Not that it neccessarily need do.)

  • / Scott Gould

    Karl – thanks for the heads up on this from Bill Nicols. You might want to check out Joe Pine (above) and his work too – especially Experience Economy and Authenticity