Social Media Specificity: Being aware of the differences between social media platforms.
Media Specificity through the spectacle of social media.
For my fellow communication scholars out there, I hope the you caught “Media Specificity”.
No, this is not a pipe, nor is it a painting / drawing of a pipe that you are looking at. You are looking at coordinated pixels arranged in a way that make this image resemble a pipe. Therefore, what you are looking at is not a pipe.
In the field of media communications, Media Specificity is a way of thinking that looks at capabilities, limitations and differences between each medium of communication i.e. verbal, writing, text, picture, video and so on. An easy way to think about it would be interpretive dance. The feeling produced by sound actively being transcribed in the language of movement.
This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph. If it is asked, “What is the content of speech?,” it is necessary to say, “It is an actual process of thought. — Marshall McLuhan
It was funny how at one point in time, the dominant social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) had very distinct modes of representation just like the television, radio, and newspaper. Instagram was mainly for pictures, Twitter was mainly for text; like speech, and Facebook was necessary for keeping informed within your social circle.
You READ tweets, and SEE Instagram posts.
What I’m trying to say here is that each social media platform is unique in essence and nature.
As of 2014:
Notice how watching videos on Twitter suddenly became possible? Notice how Instagram started posting images of motivational quotes (plain simple text on blank space)?
Similar to Media Specificity, social media platforms must always offer and provide something new that other platforms do not. Right now, Snapchat seems to be the most innovative with a flourish of features constantly tested. i.e. Geo-filters, Facial-filters, Augmented filters, discover channels and more.
Instagram and Facebook are keeping a close eye on Snapchat by introducing “new” features. i.e. Instagram Stories, Facebook messenger camera.
For content creators, this means that we should constantly be aware of the modes in which we are presenting our content. Just like any marketing campaign, the consideration of print, radio, online, or televised brand exposure can impact audiences very differently.