What Social Media Is Not

Ian Lurie

I just wrote a bit about what defines social media, and how to build on that as a marketer. But I have to let out my inner cynic for a moment. Social media is a ridiculous phrase as applied to the internet. It’s an effort to shoehorn a broad, old concept into a new, very focused space. It’s like ‘web 2.0’ – say it too many times, and kittens die.

So here’s what social media is not:

Something new: OK, c’mon. Social media has been around since the Potlatch and the Town Meeting, not to mention cave drawings.

A concrete space, field or business: You can’t nail down ‘social media’. Nor can you be a ‘social media specialist’. The concept itself is very nebulous, and rightly so – something this powerful can’t be defined in 1-2 sentences. Nor should it be.

A technology: See above. There’s no one technology, tool or feature set that defines ‘social media’.

A marketing tool: You can’t ‘use’ social media of any kind as a deliberate marketing tactic. The very nature of social media makes it resist artificial attempts to manipulate the conversation. What you can do is use marketing to influence those who participate in social media communities, on and off the internet. Sometimes, and just sometimes, that may cause a few folks to start talking about you and your product. That’s magic, and it can do more for a brand than a Superbowl ad.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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