The term “social media” is way overused

Just because it’s on the Internet or created by a single person doesn’t make it social.

Within the last couple years, everything that individuals created on the Internet was reclassified as “social media.” It used to be called user generated content (UGC for short), which was often disparaging. So social isn’t necessarily worse—except that it’s misleading.

Here’s my definition of social media:

Media for which the consumer’s relationship with the creator is relevant for understanding or value.

For example, a status update—“feeling sad”—or a snapshot from last night’s party is social media. Stuff you wouldn’t care about unless you knew the people involved.

If you don’t know the people, or don’t care, it’s probably not social media. It’s just media. It doesn’t matter if it’s created by an individual or a corporation.

What’s more, when companies use social media...well, they’re not. They may be using platforms that are primarily used for social media (like Facebook) or platforms that are used for social media, among other things (like Twitter), but that doesn’t make the companies—or their media—social.

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