When can we drop the phrase “social media?”
Is it when it is so ubiquitous that the entire internet has a social layer, imposing its paradigms on every piece of content? Is it when we treat it as a given that the internet should be used for interaction as much as for broadcast? Is it when the internet is less about disassociated data and more about people?
All these things are already true. The internet doesn’t have social media, the internet is social media. We can stop using a phrase that has been overused and misappropriated to the point of uselessness.
The Onion has something to say on the subject of social:
Advertising Age has a breakdown of social media job titles, culled from 181,000 relevant Twitter bios. Some of the more popular titles include “social media evangelist,” “social media maven,” “social media ninja,” and “social media guru,” all of which have over 18,000 users. One-hundred and seventy-four users were proud to include the phrase “social media whore” in their Twitter bio.
We can’t discount an idea’s worth just because some of its practitioners have made it ridiculous. However, it’s time to acknowledge that one can’t understand the internet without understanding its social components, or understand its social components without appreciating the larger context. Social media is a small piece of a larger puzzle, and it’s best we recognize that sooner rather than later.
In closing, here are some stream-of-consciousness observations on social media and the surrounding industry:
- “Likes,” “retweets,” and “favorites” are meaningless unless they are tied to some business objective. They shouldn’t be treated as an end unto themselves.
- There’s no “new economy” driven by social services — just like before, economics is about one party creating value and another paying for it. If you’re not paying for something, it’s because you’re the product, not the customer.
- Social media hasn’t been around long enough for there to be “social media experts,” unless perhaps they’re a technologist with a background in sociology or behavioral studies. People who fit that description tend not to call themselves “social media experts.”
Share your thoughts on social media in the comments.