Balancing Perception and Reality in Social Media

Posted By on Aug 24, 2009 | 2 comments

Is social media everything we really make it out to be? Is there an imbalance between perception and reality when it comes to social media? I would venture to say yes. Before we get into the underlying argument of the two terms… let’s define them (from

Perception: a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.

Reality: something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

There is probably a universal argument of perception versus reality in terms of marketing. We are going to touch on that briefly. The majority of marketing communication exists in order to balance the worlds of perception and reality among consumers… among your clients. When it comes to social media  there is an imbalance of the two worlds. There seems to be more perceived value of the tool than the the actual reality (at this given moment).

We can talk about the growth of networks and the stats surrounding the baby boomer adoption of Facebook. We can talk about the growth of Twitter and the role it plays in international foreign policy. However, the fact remains that only 22% of the globe (350 million) has adopted social media as an  avenue for communication.

We are still in the infancy of this communication medium. That is the reality.

However, I am not discounting the value of perception. If a tool is perceived to have high value… it is my belief… that mass adoption is going to come much, much quicker than previously anticipated. What happens when perception turns into reality and your company is left behind because you didn’t change… you didn’t adapt?

There will always be the balance of perception and reality in any form of communications advancement. Did anyone really perceive the true value of television before mass adoption? What about radio? Newspaper? We tend to only leverage a communications medium after mass adoption.

It only makes true business sense to stay ahead of the curve. It is your job as business owners, marketing directors, and C-level employees to watch for the perception turning over to reality.

What do you think? Do we actually have an imbalance?

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  1. Great thought-provoking post! One issue social media faces is that too many people read a post and believe it is real/true. Because of the fast pace, these 1/2-truths appear to be reality. We all need to check out the "truths" before passing them on so we can provide true communication and information. But that said, this perception of social media taking over, in my opinion, is reality. Maybe not in its current shape and form, but will, nonetheless, BE the form of communication – and soon. I agree that we all must stay up on this daily-changing form of communication.

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  2. Very interesting topic!
    There are many philosophy streams about perception and reality, and of course it’s not limited to social media. Actually, I believe most of our life depends on perception and appearance. We always try to make something seem bigger, better or the opposite; whether it’s advertisement, PR or just talks between friends. On the other hand we all experience things differently and thus we can understand a specific value in different ways – at the end of the day, isn’t everything “relative”?

    I believe there is a natural imbalance between perception and reality and it’s most probably a healthy one (we don’t want to be robots), but with social media we get a profusion of copies and transformations altering the original message.

    Actually, I know I’m promoting here something, but realizing that perception is everything I developed a reviewing system for blogs, where readers can say how they perceive the blog by using a scaling system. This results in 16 types of blog personalities. This then can help the blogger see how he’s perceived by his readers and if it relates to his own perception, etc.

    Well, if you’re interested to learn more just check this discussion on Blogcatalog:


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