What does social media mean to you?

Coren Hanley

05 June 2013

Dictionary definition of social media: forms of media that allow people to communicate and share information using the internet or mobile phones.

In a recent blog post I explored the different uses of Twitter, and reached the conclusion that it has become more than just a social network. A new Mashable campaign, asking the question “what does social media mean to you?” ties in quite nicely to this. In honour of Mashable’s social media day, users of social media are asked to tweet a photo/message saying what social media means to them, along with the hashtag: #socialmediais

I’ve had a quick look at some of the responses; work, relationships and brand engagement were popular responses, while a few others found social media useful for keeping up with industry trends – demonstrating the value it has in the business space. Some more interesting responses included:

  • The new internet
  • An information source
  • Creating change with our ideas, an idea machine

I could probably go on for hours mentioning the various responses I saw, but in the interest of time (and your attention span) I’ll get to the point. The fact there are so many responses tells us one thing: social media is very diverse, and plays an instrumental role in our professional and personal lives. In just a small number of years social media has evolved from simply making connections and building/maintaining relationships, to a platform which can be used for news, business exchanges and more.

So where would we be without social media? Would we be able to make relationships with our customers and peers across the globe? Would we be able to collaborate with communities of people to create new ideas? Would someone in Alaska be able to communicate with someone in Thailand? Yes, all these things would probably be possible, but they wouldn’t be as easy; it’d probably cost more, and be more time consuming.

So does the earlier definition of social media still ring true? To me, that only defines a subset of social media. While we can communicate and share information, we can do much, much more with social media. Arguably the social media world is so vast, and changes and grows so quick and often that it’s almost impossible to define social media – but I challenge you to try.

My thought on defining social media is that it's very dependent on the user. For instance, while some enjoy social gaming, others, may dabble in some social TV viewing, and some might just want to stalk what their friends are doing (creepy as that might sound).