A little while back I posted a “New Definition of Social Media” where I defined six core principles that set social media apart from other forms of communication and collaboration. It got a pretty good response. But people have asked me for a more succinct definition that sits above the six principles that hammers home the differentiation.
So here it is:
Social media is an on-line environment established for the purpose of mass collaboration.
This definition is simple yet has some powerful constructs.
- Social media is the environment not the technology (i.e., Facebook is a social media environment built on social networking technology and Wikipedia is a social media environment built on wiki technology).
- You must have a purpose for the technology for it to be social media other wise it’s just technology. Notice how I worked “purpose” into the definition
- Though you can do many things with social media (like 1:1 interactions and mass communications) it’s real and unique value comes from mass collaboration.
- Not just collaboration but mass collaboration. Never before have such large numbers of people been able to effectively collaborate. If I had the power to redefine a few things I would use the term “mass collaboration technology” rather than social technology (or the many permutations like social media technology, social computing technology, etc.) because social technology is too broad and doesn’t capture the unique value proposition of the new technologies (isn’t the telephone a social technology). If the technology you choose for your social media channel doesn’t support mass collaboration then you are in trouble.
Oh, what the heck, since I’m defining things why don’t I just add:
Social media channels are enabled by a new set of mass collaboration technologies.
And while were at it:
Mass collaboration is the ability of large numbers of people, who may have no preexisting connection, to effectively work against a common goal.
Now the six principles help define what it means to enable mass collaboration.
Thoughts? Do you like it? Loath it? Agree, disagree? Let’s test it under fire.
Help me out I’m trying to mass collaborate here! Should we add these to Wikipedia
The current Wikipedia definition is this, “Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques.” This is lacking in my view. Again, wouldn’t the telephone qualify here? What about e-mail? Skype? No talk of channels or mass collaboration.
They follow this definition with “Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein also define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Businesses also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.” Only a tech geek would understand and be inspired by this paragraph. They could preface this paragraph with the message [business people need not read any further].