Social Media- A Definition Guessing Game

I am a big fan of definitions. I need a clear and concise answer and/or explanation to everything I encounter. I am not a fan of the “grey area.” Social media is all a grey area. There are no specific rules, regulations or guidelines as to what constitutes a social media. There is no regulating panel that accepts or rejects sites wishing to apply for social media status.

Part of describing what a social media is, is coming up with a great definition of what it does. Now, putting those two components together isn’t an easy task and not everyone is going to have the same definition. Curious to know what people thought about this Adam Vicenzini asked for his blog and Twitter readers to share their definitions.

“Social media is a catalyst for change- change in the way we connect with each other, change in the way businesses connect with the world,” said @trevoryoung.

Several other people echoed a similar thought. Social media is what’s new right now. There will never be a time where a new website for communication and sharing won’t be the new trend online. The sites we use are jumping points for something new and better. Social media are constantly changing how we send our message, regardless of what our message may be. Social media will now and forever continue to define how we communicate in the 21st century. It’s too popular, too large, and frankly, too embedded into our online culture to do away with.

“Social media shrinks time and place, it imposes a stark brevity; it leads strangers to each other; gives booming voice to a whisper; turns two legs into an army,” said @MarketingVeep.

This is perhaps one of the best descriptions of how far and wide social media can spread. Social media give people a place to share their ideas, to start change, to have their voices be heard. The very companies and businesses people are speaking to, something that would have been almost impossible twenty years ago, are hearing their consumers. It’s giving the consumer the power to dictate exactly what they want, how they want it and how long they are willing to wait for it.

Social media are helping us change our world faster than ever before. We are empowered now to start a movement, help others, or simply connect with the world like never before. For example, let’s talk about the only living Golden Girl- Betty White. On May 8th, 2010 she hosted Saturday Night Live. All thanks to a Facebook campaign. Yep, that’s right. Facebook got Betty White on to SNL. The outcry from viewers supporting White to appear on the show was tremendous- too tremendous to ignore. This entire event was orchestrated solely because of online behavior.

As @steveology put it best, social media is “the greatest shift of power from the corporation to the consumer since the birth of the industrial revolution.”

Another Twitter user focused on the younger generation of online users. @RichQuigley said, “SM is an opportunity 2 particip8 in the evolution of communications & 2 disregard everything u have ever learned about spelling & punk2ation.” (Right now, I’m actually a little appalled at the fact that Microsoft Word hasn’t highlighted anything in that tweet as misspelled.) This tweet makes me think of the younger generations of online users (and some older ones too) who don’t speak out to companies or businesses. They use social media to connect with each other. They spend hours online to help make them feel less isolated in their own lives. They can go to sites like Facebook, or MySpace or Xanga (if it’s still popular) to read each other’s blogs, talk in forums about good ol’ regular teen angst.

I’ve decided to take a stab at making my own social media definition, one that can encompass everything I’ve ever thought about the Internet and social media.

“Social Media are the vessels that bring life’s classroom onto the Internet and let’s everyone become both a student and a teacher.”- @MMRod

Originally Published on: Feb 1, 2011 @ 21:49


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