Define Social Media

Filed as Features on October 26, 2008 8:11 am

As I described in Learning Blogging and Social Media in Hawaii, I learned a lot about the future of the web at the Social Media Club Workshop in Honolulu this past week as part of Hawaii Geek Week.

One of the biggest problems facing those who consult and train others in social media, as well as business that need to know about social media, is defining social media. What is it?

Many simplify the concept and say that it is Twitter and blogs, especially blog conversations and comments. Others offer complicated answers that have to do with building your online identity and brand.

The last few workshops and conferences I’ve been to, including Podcamp and WordCamp Hawaii, battled with the definition of social media and the role it plays in today’s business and economy.

What does social media mean to you? How do you use it? What is it doing for you? How do you define social media?

Exploring Social Media Series

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  1. By Stephen Downes posted on October 26, 2008 at 8:21 am
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    Any media that involves the participation of more than one person.

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  2. By Cass posted on October 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm
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    I like Cone’s definition in its 2008 “Business in Social Media” study – “technology facilitated dialogue among individuals or groups, such as blogs/microblogs, forums, wikis, content sharing, social networking, social bookmarking and social gaming.” Basically it’s about enabling conversation and dialogue :)

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  3. By Simon Young posted on October 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm
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    My favourite definition comes from the presentation “What the f*** is social media?”. It says social media is “people talking to each other online”. It’s elegant, and able to scale as the individual technology inevitably changes.

    In our consultancy iJump, we say it’s called social media because it’s social (like conversation) and it’s media (like broadcast), and then riff on the nuances of those two aspects.

    We also break the tools down into things that help you Create, Connect, Share, Define and Collaborate. But of course there are always overlaps.

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  4. By MikeTheBee posted on October 26, 2008 at 12:50 pm
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    This question is worthy of some thought, and while I think, I will say that you might be mentioning the ‘good Hawaiin’ life too much for those of us entering a S.A.D. winter in Europe.

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  5. By Alistair Shaw posted on October 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm
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    Tools that help connect people.

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  6. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on October 26, 2008 at 3:12 pm
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    ooooh, Alistair, I like your definition. I like all of these definitions. But MikeTheBee is right. We have to really think about this because social media isn’t a shoe that fits every foot.

    As for the Hawaii good life, that’s part of the week long celebration of Hawaii Geek Week (do we need an S.A.D. European Geek Week? :D ) that I’ve been privileged to be a part of, learning about social the Aloha way. We have so much to learn from Hawaii when it comes to social on the ground so we can take it to the virtual and my head is exploding with everything I learned this past busy week.

    So what does Social Media mean to YOU?

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  7. By Roxanne Darling posted on October 26, 2008 at 9:46 pm
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    I think social media is simple – any communication (the media part: blogs, twitter, podcasts, video, etc) that allows people do with each other (the social part – chatting back and forth, not issuing one-way soliloquies). [Wow - thank heaven for spell check on that one!]

    I must say I didn’t witness any “battles” in the midst of all the aloha of sharing and excitement of learning! Hehe, I’m just sayin’

    @MikeTheBee – I understand the S.A.D. season – it is part of why I moved to Hawaii, and can confirm that for me the sunshine factor does make a difference.

    I invite you to join us at Beach Walks with Rox, our mostly daily video. I would have thought envy would be a dominant experience, but most viewers from cold northern countries tell me they actually get a mental boost from the visual and virtual sunshine plus the sound of the waves. Your experience may vary; we’d love for you give us a try.

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  8. By Sandeep Arora posted on October 27, 2008 at 3:25 am
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    Here is a interactive FLASH defining Social Media.

    http://vizedu.com/2008/10/social-media-explained-visually/

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  9. By Alistair Shaw posted on October 27, 2008 at 12:14 pm
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    Sandeep, thanks, really good. Great slide where it describes the fusion of technology and human behaviour.

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  10. By VlogHog posted on October 27, 2008 at 6:55 pm
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    Any website that promotes social interaction. Also, one where REAL people are active with one another not spammers.

    I use Stumble Upon and MyBlogLog to try to connect to like minded bloggers and find potential traffic to my blog.

    To date, I have use them to find sites such as TechCrunch and Small Fish Big Money to help learn how to blog correctly.

    Sometimes you have to weed through the spam to find what you’re looking for.

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  11. By Beth Kanter posted on October 29, 2008 at 3:39 pm
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    With nonprofits, we’ve defined as:
    Using the Internet to instantly collaborate, share information, and have a conversation with people about ideas, causes, or programs we care about.

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