March 18, 2010

How do you define social media?

Have you ever searched for a concise, easy-to-understand definition of social media? If you haven't tried already, don't bother. You won't find any common definition. What you will find is a collection of random explanations that contradict each other, such as:

Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques - Wikipedia

Social media is a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate.- Anthony Bradley, Gartner

A term used to describe tools and platforms people use to produce, publish and share online content and to interact with one another. Social media tools include blogs, podcasts, videos, microblogs, wikis, etc. - The Buzz Bin

If there was a conversation cloud that monitored what I was talking about, social media would be the biggest, brightest phrase. I talk about it A LOT. Can I provide the Merriam-Webster's official definition for it? No, but neither can you because there is no entry for it.

So, what is social media, really? Is it a platform such as Twitter or YouTube? Is it the experience of sharing your opinion via a blog post or commenting on a video on YouTube? Is it a concept such as a way to engage in an open dialogue with your customers using online technologies? Is it a combination of all three?

For me, social media is a combination of all three. Social media is an innovative way of socializing where we engage in an open dialogue, tell our stories and interact with one another using online platforms. There's no big complicated words or phrases in my definition but for now, it works. I'm sure that it will change tomorrow, but that's the beauty of not having an official definition for social media. It can continue to evolve as social media changes. Once we have an official definition for social media, it means that innovation has stopped happening and that in itself will mean that social media is probably dying since innovation is what truly defines social media

What's your definition of social media?

- Shannon



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