Social Media: Apparently a troublesome term

Given all the recent confusion about “social media,” some corrections and clarifications seem to be needed:

• The word “media” is the plural for the word “medium” but the term “social media” is generally used with a singular verb.

• The term “social media” embraces web-based and mobile technologies that facilitate and expedite user generated content.

• There seems to be widespread confusion of social media with the social groups that use them, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Similarly, television is a communications medium; network and cable programmers are not.

• Contributions from members of social groups are by nature subjective rather than objective and by no means definitive.

• Wikipedia poses challenges to being classified because it is both a social group and a major information source. Contact between and among those who contribute to it (funds, articles, and/or both) is interactive but informational rather than social in both nature and extent.

• As for First Friday Book Synopsis, its resources include a website, a bookstore, and a blog. Reservations can be made and purchases processed via its website; to date, few persons have posted blog content but anyone can post comments on that content. As for social interaction, it is limited entirely to monthly meetings at which Karl Krayer and Randy Mayeux are the sole providers of content.

• For several years, I have also been actively involved with the Employee Engagement Network that now has more than 4,600 members throughout the United States and Canada (primarily) but anyone anywhere is welcome to join. There are no meetings but there is constant exchange of information each day.

• Groups that rely almost entirely on social media to attract and retain members are not “news” sources, nor do they attempt to be.

• Those who have that expectation probably rely on John Wayne’s film, The Alamo, to know what really happened at the mission near San Antonio, February 23 – March 6, 1836.

• Finally, all of the Fortune 100 companies are now actively involved with social media because, to their astonishment, visitors to their Facebook sites out-number visitors to their homepages (on average) by at least a 10-1 ratio and probably more.


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