Social Media: it’s holding us back

When someone says “Social Media”, what do you think of?

For most people, tools like Facebook and Twitter spring to mind but this preoccupation with the big networks does a disservice to the socio-cultural shifts we’re seeing as outlined in my post yesterday.


And this problem afflicts me too. In recent months I’ve found it increasingly difficult to talk about social media without tying myself up in linguistic knots. The trouble is that the term “Social Media” somehow fails to encapsulate the deeper societal change that it really represents, leaving us thinking about media  channels and advertising platforms.

Perhaps we need a new term for the new year. When marketers think of social media in 2012, they should be thinking about the ways their customers and prospects like to discover, consume and share information about the things that are important in their lives. Sure, some of that happens through the big social network hubs, but increasingly it’s also happening through a rich vein of emerging technologies and platforms that are only loosely connected to the big networks.

Social media is about conversations, discussion, and interactivity. It’s about communities and loosely organised collectives sharing views and information. Quite how to encapsulate that in a punchy and memorable label escapes me. If it were a formula, it might be expressed like this.


(Social media is approximately equal to the sum of all conversations raised to the power of our human desire to communicate)

What’s clear is that the term “Social Media” is holding back many in the marketing industry from embracing the full potential it can bring.

How would you describe it better?