The Internet is not just content, it is also populated by a myriad of ways to communicate. Communication on the Internet is no longer the exchange of emails, publishing and reading html pages.

We have been using the term “social media” to describe the channels of online communication that somehow level the playing field between people and organizations. In fact, social media channels allow for publics to form with relative ease and gives them the ability to communicate in real time at a very low cost. It is therefore no surprise that these publics are able to organize and act to influence an organization or a government institution.

These organizations then face a new challenge, they must monitor the online dialogue and obtain permission to participate in that dialogue. But it is not only a matter of monitoring, it is also a matter of choosing in which channels it is important to participate. It is not just a matter of which channels are the most used, it is also important to identify the ones were the most engaged publics communicate.

But “social media” is also a term used to describe that same online dialogue. In that aspect, it is important to listen and to infer the values and values system to which an organization must adhere to or at least understand to build a middle ground.