I'm whipping up a little presentation to help me lead a discussion on Social Media for Business at Podcamp this weekend. In doing so, I discovered that there is no solid definition for Social Media on the web. I've seen confusion around this term at live events as well. What is Social Media?
Let me clear it up once and for all.
Social Media: Any communications format where the users publish the content.
Is that clear enough? Yes, it can be multimedia - music, pictures, video as well as text. Yes, it can be a blog or a social network like Facebook. Open Source is social media, although they would hate to be associated with a term that traditional marketers are trying to hijack. Social media can even be offline - like New Moon Magazine for girls, the citizens' band in radio, even the op-ed page of the New York Times (although arguably so because pretty tightly controlled).
Social media is media by society - as opposed to the top-down publishing model where one person (company, really) with a controlling editorial voice is in charge of the voice of the publication or the channel.
The entire web is social media - webpage after webpage, published by whoever wants to buy a domain name. The only thing that can break it: destroying net neutrality and allowing carriers to prioritize their own content by providing better bandwidth for it, making content they don't favor slow as molasses for the end user. Let's not even go there.
Hope that clears it up!