I’ve never been entirely happy with the term “social media”, to me it doesn’t seem to describe anything — it was a term that sort of stuck for the want of anything good to describe the “whole sort of general mish-mash” of people communicating online.
“Social” is a particularily meaningless word, or actually what I mean is that it means too much. It has connotations of friendly interaction, or welfare or even socialism. The term social media has also been expanded to refer to the tools that people understand as being for it, so much so that people (organisations, really) can claim to be “doing social media”, when all they are really doing is publishing things on the net. The Obama teams’ non-comment-allowed use of YouTube for example, is not any more social than a radio broadcast or TV address — it just allowed them full control. That’s not to say that it was wrong, after all going where your audeince is is good advice, but it’s not “social”.
When I, or other people who think a lot about “this sort of stuff” talk about “social media” we mean the converational bits — Twitter-ers tweeting each other, comments on Flickr photos, blog posts that either host or contribute to conversation (comments, links, trackbacks…) and so on. We also talk about “joining the conversation”.
So why don’t we refine our terms and talk about “conversational media”?
Conversational media is where everyone can have the means to join in.
What do you think?