Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Do We Call it Social Media?

We have a problem with semantics and definitions. On our Website we have a section called Social Media Services because that is what everyone calls some forms of Communication Technologies.

In fact Social Media is actually a Revolution in Interpersonal Communication Technologies. Or in reality a continuing evolution that started millennia ago with the the written word. If you were to use as a definition technology that allows humans to share information among themselves this would include:

Hand Writing. Print. TV. Radio. Film. Which are actually one way communication consumed by many. But it can be reshared via word of mouth, giving the physical media to someone else, etc.

If you take Social Media a step further and claim it needs to be two way communication then Telegraph, Telephone, Email, SMS Text all qualify just as much as Twitter and Facebook.

An article on the Huffington Post is media. There is nothing social about it. Does it matter if I copy the URL and send an email to 20 people or upload it to Twitter the media itself is not social. The Technology is what enables the sharing. And we must look at these platforms as Technology vs Media.

Gini Dietrich likes to call these Tools. Which they are. Others like Joseph Jaffe and Mitch Joel like to call them Shiny Objects because we get enthralled with them, only to move on to the next Shiny Object when a new one comes out.

There is a whole industry of people and revenue and supporting roles, think news coverage, who benefit from the 'mystery' of Social Media. There is no mystery. Just like if I told you I wanted to market a product by phone you know exactly how I will do that...EEK! Telemarketing. If I want to market using Social Media often it really means paid advertising like Facebook Ads. Or trying to spread a message through these networks (btw this is REALLY HARD TO DO ON ANY SCALE!) There are ways to leverage these communication technologies to benefit your brand or business but I wouldn't always place them under 'Marketing'.

But let us not confuse what Social Media really is. Interpersonal Communication Technologies. And whenever a better technology comes out, we will migrate to that because that is human nature. If you don't believe me I bet you have an 8 Track Tape Player and VCR and a Typewriter at home.


  1. I'll see your 8 Track Tape, VCR and Typewriter and raise you a fountain pen, white-out and postage stamp.

    I love this post! Especially since I'm doing a presentation this week entitled "Making Sense of Social Media", which basically echoes many of the principles you mention here.

    I always say "If you don't know the WHY, the HOW doesn't matter." If people don't know WHY they're using social (or any other tool), then why are they using it? And yes, people will migrate to the next shiny object...squirrel! Cheers! Kaarina P.S. Did you say Facebook Howie? :)))

  2. I tried 'Social Media' but it didn't work as well as 'Antisocial Media'. A page from Tim Minchin's 'Storm' a 9-minute beat poem

    Social Media that is proven to work is called communication.