Reading the top most shared stories on Facebook and the top ten most shared videos of 2011 it becomes clear how much social media has changed the overall media landscape. The way content is consumed and becomes popular, viewed and discussed by a community on and offline has radically changed. News events and hot topics are starting to emerge on social media sites and aggregator sites. Some get picked up by old media or broadcast media outlets are characterised broadly by popular meme’s – often first gaining traction on sites such as Reddit and Digg, rather than say, MTV.
Take the Internet Meme around “Casually Pepper Spray Everything” following a US policeman who was photographed nonchalantly spraying student protesters earlier in the year. The striking image was promptly photo-shopped to oblivion as the meme gained popularity on aggregator sites before being shared via email, social networks, forums and eventually making it into mainstream news shows. This sort of collaborative media activity has become a pervasive part of the Web 2.0 era and is redefining how old media companies interact with their audiences, changing what content gets shared, what becomes popular and what sort of media we all consume.