Social Media or just “Media”?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

It caught the attention of many folks around the web. Mine as well. And from a PR agency perspective – let alone a corporate perspective – it is more critical than most of us likely imagine.

For the past three months, I’ve been consumed by my new role – that being to help guide H&K’s digital corporate and public affairs offering across both the US and Canada - commuting 3 days a week to Washington, DC – and learning a lot through exposure to new colleagues and new clients. At the same time, I’ve noticed that some of the same challenges exist that I faced in my Canadian-only role, challenges encapsulated by Adam Tinworth of One Man and His Blog in his October 7 post: “On the web, social media is just media“. In it, he expounds on a recent Tweet where he stated:

Officially bored of the phrase “social media” now. I’m just going to call it “media” and everything else can be “anti-social media”.

An off-the-cuff comment in under 140 characters perhaps. But when viewed through the lens of our industry, the importance of it cannot be understated. The past few years have been tumultuous as consultants and corporations, governments and media attempted to navigate this minefield of new behaviours, expectations and technologies. “Hype” and the myriad missteps along the way could – for the most part – be forgiven.

However, if communications agencies are to survive and thrive in the years ahead, the thinking that social media is something different from what we have traditionally done must be leeched – from corner offices to cubes. We must start thinking of it in the context of “media”… mainstream, social or otherwise. It must be holistic, it must be integrated, and it must be informed. If we don’t, it will remain sidelined, a novelty, the last slide within a deck, the last page within a proposal or RFP, bereft of substance, misinformed by hype, and the realm of junior consultants. As a consequence, our own relevance will likely, and all too soon, be seen as equally “optional” and throw-away.

The “hype” and novelty is over. It is a call-to-action that must now be heeded.



Boyd Neil

Maybe ‘media’ is the wrong word. It is especially inappropriate for what we have been calling social media (plural by the way), which are actually about ‘community’, ‘connection’, ‘dialogue’, ‘engagement’, and ‘personality’, among other things. The concept ‘media’ tends to connote unidirectional communication or publishing even when applied to social computing. So, any ideas for a new meme?




An important question. And yet I wonder if rather than create a new meme, should we not instead be seeking to enrich the definition of an existing one. To that point, we should not confuse the means of communication with the ‘intent’ – that being a desire to foment or enable community, dialogue etc. through these media. Re. the grammar, yeah, yeah… thhhpt.



Collective Conversation » The|Intangibles » Blog Archive » Why ‘Media’ with ‘Social’

[...] post by a colleague got me thinking about the phrase ’social media’ as the lexeme to describe the [...]



Collective Conversation » Bandwidth » Blog Archive » Why ‘Media’ with ‘Social’

[...] post by a colleague got me thinking about the phrase ’social media’ as the lexeme to describe the [...]



Collective Conversation » Bandwidth » Blog Archive » Defining media isn’t as easy as you think

[...] been some online chatter about doing away with the term “social media” and just calling it “media”. I can appreciate where this comes from. With hundres of [...]




Man, I hope you screen this….



Rachna Hukmani

Just my humble opinion, but I quite like the term ‘Collective Conversation’ rather than ‘Social Media’ Maybe that should be the term?

In working for a Pet Care client which went through a major pet food recall in 2007, we found that what pet owners were looking for is trust, transparency, open conversations with companies to give them a ‘face.’

It’s not just media. It’s a two way conversation.

Think you guys are on to something with the name of your blog…



coffee with Julie

Hi Brendan – I come from a communications background and have always found it irksome when people distinguish between “communications” and “engagement.” In my view, effective communications is two-way communications — it is, by definition, a form of engagement with an audience. So I like the idea of stripping the term “social” from media. In doing so, the notion of “social” can be integrated into all forms of media use — a more holistic view or plan — and, like you say, not left as a last slide on a deck. Great post! – Julie




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