August 20, 2018

What Makes a Social Media Site? Users or Marketers?

All social media sites attempt to provide users with the opportunity to submit content and determine what gets the most exposure based on the likes and dislikes of visitors. This obviously provides marketers with a chance to get traffic by promoting content that appeals to social media audiences. At some sites it seems the users are the marketers and the marketers are the users, but at other sites there is a more distinct separation of the two.

If marketers are developing and (sometimes) pushing content aimed at this audience, are they more critical to the success of a social media site than the users? Digg wouldn’t be where it is today without the ability to send thousands of visitors in quick surges. As a result of the traffic potential, marketers continually develop and publish articles and videos that will please the masses of Digg users, which hopefully makes the site a better resource for users. On the other hand, the marketers would get no results without the users, and they would be wasting their time.

Start-up social media sites that hope to be the Digg killer really need to meet the needs of both marketers and users in my opinion. But what is more critical to the success of a social media site?

Users are more critical.

I consider myself to be both a user and a marketer (I don’t think you can be an effective social media marketer without first being an active user). My opinion is probably biased in the favor of marketers, but even so, I recognize that users are more critical to the long-term success of a social media site.

Without marketers creating content for social media, users could still find content on their own, submit, vote, and carry on as normal. Without users, marketers would have no one to see their content and they would just be marketing to each other.

As more and more social media users become bloggers I think the line between user and marketer will become less distinct.

The contribution of users:

1. Users are the real community. Social media sites are built around the idea of a community, and without users this is simply not possible.

2. Control the voting. While marketers may create conten, it is ultimately the users that vote and determine the fate of that content (although voting can be manipulated).

3. Submit content. While marketers will create and submit some of the comtent, users will also be involved in this way.

4. Provide the traffic and exposure. Users are what marketers are after. Without that traffic and exposure their would be little point to social media marketing.

The contribution of marketers:

1. Provide high-quality content. Ideally, the content created by marketers will be appreciated by users, otherwise it’s not very effective.

2. They’re also users themselves. Some of the most active users of social media are the marketers.

What’s Your Opinon?

How do you see the role of users and marketers in the long-term success of a social media site?

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About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.


  1. Interesting thought Steven, I personally have never put any thought into the matter. I consider myself a marketer first and a user second. Before using social media as a marketing tool, I was only vaguely interested in sites like digg or stumbleupon.

    Once I became interested in social media for its marketing benefit, I became a much more active member of the social media community. I have recently seen the other benefits of social media though like connecting with other like-minded individuals and finding interesting sites I would had not otherwise seen.

  2. Vinh,
    I’m similar to you. I never started using social media until I wanted to promote my own work. However, now I rely on it for finding interesting and helpful articles, so it has taken on a new meaning for me, not to mention the networking.

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