Why I Have Begun to Hate the Term 'Social Media'

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

The Phrase Has Become So Undefined It Has Outlived Its Usefulness

Ad Age, 4/12/11

My first SXSW experience was humbling and overwhelming. I was asked to do a panel based on my Ad Age post: “Has Facebook Jumped the Shark?” from 2010. I was fortunate to be joined by industry heavyweights like Mark Rosner, CEO of Zedge, a mobile community 40 million strong; Kunur Patel, digital reporter for Advertising Age; Hank Wasiak, an award-winning ad industry veteran and partner at the Concept Farm; and Mark Sherwood, Saatchi’s head of integrated planning. I was even also joined by colleagues Joy Dibenedetto and Donnetta Campbell of Hum News to help report on the session.

Almost immediately, the audience “jumped” into the conversation and in real time someone tweeted: “luv it when a tussle breaks out…” The spirited conversation was centered on whether “social media” was a “great gift” as Hank Wasiak beautifully said or, as Kunur Patel and Mark Sherwood believed, a fundamental shift in how people connect led by Gen Y.

And as the session progressed and the conversation heated up, I realized that much of the “tussling” was simply because there was no consistent understanding of what “social media” was. For some, “social media” meant a new connective layer for the planet (powered by Facebook). For others, social media was the social layer for the planet with a new definition of “privacy” (powered by Facebook). And for others, social media was so broad it meant anything that let people share anything — which covers a lot of ground beyond Facebook.

I know people got lost in the room. I know I did too.

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