A definition of social media

Today, as part of a panel discussion, I was asked to define social media. Here’s what I came up with (it may be a bit formal):

Social media is a democratic, transparent and conversational way for people and organizations to interact and build relationships and communities of mutual benefit – usually online.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and suggestions.


6 thoughts on “A definition of social media

  1. A pretty spot on description of what social media is. I agree it is a tad formal but that could reflect the forum where it was composed. My little nitpick is social media is an exclusively online medium either out in the open or behind the organizational firewall.

  2. I do like that definition however suspect that democratic and transparent are idealistic descriptions of social media. I would perhaps simply describe it as media that enables us to meet, network and interact online with whom we share common interests.

  3. I agree with Fly on the Wall… your definition is more what you want social media to be, rather than what it is. My own opinion is that social media is fluid. Lots of folks are trying to define what it is, others are actually defining it. It’s simply a way to communicate that wasn’t possible a few years ago.

  4. Can I stir the pot a bit here?I think that WAY too many people focus on defining this medium, whatever it is. It’s kind of like asking Alexander Graham Bell “what’s your definition of the telephone?”, and then debating the merits of his answer. This is just another way for people to connect with one another. Yes, it’s many-to-many instead of one-to-one or one-to-many. But it’s still a way to connect. As Clay Shirky points out, it’s only when the technology becomes invisible that the really interesting things happen.

  5. I’ve always taken “Social Media” to mean any technology that enables and promotes the broad (often global), exchange of information between people. The old style bulletin board systems (dialup) were this, but to a lesser degree because the audience the reached was fairly narrow. A really big pub with carrier pigeons could qualify (if the bar were *really* big, and carrier pigeons were considered technology). Wonderful blog you have here; interesting writing and great feedback (I believe you’re a professional!).Would you be willing to add your blog to my “Best Blogs of teh GTA” directory?http://www.torontocitylife.com/blogs/Cheers!

  6. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. I think my definition may have been a bit too academic (as opposed to conversational) and I appreciate your perspectives and ideas. Social media clearly in evolutionary mode. And for that’s part of the excitement; and charm.

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