The problem with ‘social’ media

March 28th, 2011 4 Comments

I hate the word social media. I hate the concept ‘social’ media. I’ve consistently refused to incorporate the word ‘social’ in my job titles.
social media, social networking, social computing tag cloud (#1)
I’m not a social media strategist. I’m a strategist. On this, I disagree with analysts like Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang.

I also don’t say that I do social media marketing. I don’t.  I do marketing and today, media is social. (Today? When I was 15, half my lifetime ago, I started a nonprofit as a website, which I handcoded in HTML, and an email listserv).

OK, maybe I do social media.

… And telephone media.

… And print media.

… And radio media.

… And mobile media

… And spoken media.

… And email. And tradeshows.

SnailOk. I’ll be honest. I’ve never (yet) created a trade show booth (but I’ve reached mass audiences and niche audiences without it). I’ve also never worked with a printer to create direct mail (which is probably good since printed snail mail volume is declining (no wonder, since it’s called ‘snail’ mail)). Is it that I’m really an online marketing strategist?

How does marketing to a trade group in LinkedIn or Meetup differ from doing it over the telephone or via the postal service and in person?

How is social media different from online media, in general?

The platform isn’t the most important thing. First choose your goal and objective, and then choose the platform.

The only ones talking about social are the ones not being social. If you’re singularly focused on the magical, wondrous world of ‘social media’ I promise it’s going to disappoint you. On the other hand, if you can use the appropriate tool for the appropriate time (both online and offline), I promise things will be much better.

My point is, with over 2 billion people online, including most of the developed world, marketers just need to be where their target audience is. Much of the time, it doesn’t matter (at least to digital natives like me that learned to use a computer at the same time that we learned how to use a telephone or write a letter). Do you care that I’m writing this post on my cellphone and not on paper? I didn’t think so.

The point is: for digital natives (the oldest of whom are now managers in their 30s… Don’t remind me) – equally comfortable online as off – differentiating media as social makes no sense.

So please, don’t say social media to me.


  1. ZuDfunck says:

    I will be sure to keep that in mind
    I agree
    I hate the term SoMe
    because that is what it ends up being
    A moniker for self obsessed folks
    who think they know more than me

  2. NicholasPR says:

    I think the term social media just implies that it’s a conversation in the now, more real time than other online media forms, or that have more of a delayed response. Any platform, online or offline with a conversation type feel would be social in my book.

  3. Jon Mell says:

    I was once asked what the future role of social media in sales and marketing would be. My response was that what we today call “social sales and marketing”, will tomorrow be called “sales and marketing”.

    What is anti-social “media” anyway?

    • Avi Hein says:

      I’ve said that many times… Online media will just be media. Today’s old media was yesterday’s new media.

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