Why Your Idea Of Social Media Is WRONG!

Before we get into Social Media Marketing, ask yourself this:

“What is Social Media?”

Don’t overthink it and definitely don’t google it. Just write on a piece of paper the first thing that pops into your mind. Then, I want you to come up with a 10 – 20-word definition in your mind for the term “Social Media”. Take five minutes, write it down and then continue reading.

Social media marketing revamp

Look back at the first word that you wrote down. If it looks like this:






then you have made the wise choice to look the definition up. If you are thinking about making the most of Social Media Marketing, you need to understand that social media is not or should never be encapsulated in any one name. The names above fall under the category of social media and not the other way around. So if you hear the term social media and immediately a brand comes to mind, then you do not actually understand social media and would not be able to have a perfect understanding of social media management. But that’s okay for now because you came here to learn and learn is what we are going to do.

I want you to look at your “official” definition if you were able to come up with one in the five minutes. If it is similar to any one of the following, THEN you are on the right track:

  1. “Primarily internet or cellular phone based applications and tools to share information among people.” (“social media”, n.d.)
  2. “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” (Google definition)
  3. “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks” (Tufts University Relations, n.d.)

So you may be thinking “Okay, so social media is about sharing stuff. Well, does that mean gossip over the phone is social media? Is the church notice board social media? From what I gather social media is about sharing information among people so why aren’t those things social media?”

Good question. For something to be considered social media, it must have three of the following elements:

Examples And Why These Platforms Are Considered Social Media.

We know what are the different types of social media but do we know why they are considered social media? If your answer was “Because they contain all three of the elements in the infographic.” them you are absolutely correct. I f you still do not understand, let’s examine them together.

  1. Facebook (noun) -“Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues.” (Rouse, n.d.)
  2. Twitter (noun)”Twitter is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices. Tweets and replies to tweets can be sent by cell phone text message, desktop client or by posting at the Twitter.com website.” (Rouse, n.d.)
  3. Instagram (noun) – “Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We’re building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos.”  (“FAQ”, n.d.)
  4. Blogs (noun) – “A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” (Google definition)

By the same criteria, we can then surmise that the following cannot be considered social media:

  • Browsing the web (Exposure to a virtual community but there is no interaction and no information is being shared)
  • Physical bulletin boards (Information is being shared and interaction may occur but it is a physical site)
  • Phone calls (Information being shared and interaction is occurring but no virtual community is present)
  • Pinterest (Information is shared, virtual community is present, but there is no interaction on the platform itself. Pinning is not interaction)

Understanding this is 50% of understanding social media marketing so once you can process this information, you are well on your way to grasping what social media marketing is.

Since this is “Social Media Marketing – Simplified!”, it would be appropriate to come up with a simple definition of what social media is. Based on everything that we know so far, we can say that

Social Media is any technological application that can be used to compose and share original and popular content with the online community.

You can try coming up with your definition based on what you now know. Compare it to what you wrote at the beginning of the lesson and some of the definitions that we found online. Note what it should look like and take it as an indicator of the concepts that you should have in your head about the concept of social media.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and if you so desire, leave your definition of social media as well and create a discussion.

After that be sure to move on to the next lesson: “The Six Questions of Social Media Marketing”.


  1. FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2017, from https://www.instagram.com/about/faq/
  2. Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is Facebook? – Definition from WhatIs.com. Retrieved May 06, 2017, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Facebook
  3. Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is Twitter? – Definition from WhatIs.com. Retrieved May 06, 2017, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Twitter
  4. Social Media. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2017, from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/social-media.html
  5. Social Media Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2017, from http://communications.tufts.edu/marketing-and-branding/social-media-overview/
  6. Tufts University Relations. (n.d.). Social Media Overview. Retrieved May 06, 2017, from http://communications.tufts.edu/marketing-and-branding/social-media-overview/

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